Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN – Miami Herald News. Her health care journalism is supported by a fellowship with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Like most folks who've worked at a member station, she's worn a lot of hats: interim digital editor during the re-launch of WLRN.org, assistant producer for The Florida Roundup, morning news producer, intern coordinator, party planner. She was one half of the StateImpact Florida education reporting team. 

Her stories have appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, Health News Florida, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with A Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Journalism, and Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won a Third Coast International Audio Festival bronze award, an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

Ways to Connect

Miami Dade College

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell stopped at Miami Dade College on Wednesday to drum up excitement around open enrollment for health insurance plans—though during her stop she was not keen on addressing some of the problems that have come out of Obamacare.

She began her tour of MDC in a computer lab on the second floor of the downtown campus where there’s a bank of computers dedicated just to helping students enroll in Obamacare.

cooldesign / freedigitalphotos.net

A new analysis of Florida’s health care markets finds that as the state’s hospitals consolidate and expand, new business models are shifting the negotiating power.

University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute / County Health Rankings Health Gaps Report 2015

A new study of state death rates shows more Floridians die early in some counties than in others—and researchers have a few ideas about how to change that.

The Florida State Health Gaps report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute examines factors that influence health—everything from smoking and obesity rates, to unemployment, to air pollution—alongside county-by-county death rates. 

March of Dimes

The March of Dimes has  issued its 2015 report card on early births across the country and Florida gets bad grades for its premature birth rates.

The state earned a C this year for having a premature birth rate of 9.9 percent—just about one in every 10 babies born in Florida. The March of Dimes goal is 8.1 percent.

The owner of the now-defunct Dade Medical College, Ernesto Perez, has been charged with making illegal campaign contributions. 

Wilfredo Lee / AP via Miami Herald

At about 12:30 on Thursday afternoon, Dynamic Air Flight 405 was taxiing on the north runway of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It was full of fuel and about to take off for Caracas, Venezuela.

What happened next shut down the airport for three hours and delayed hundreds of flights. 

Before the plane got off the ground, passengers heard what they described as a loud boom.

Andres Gallegos, in seat 12 A, turned to see flames outside. In the cockpit, the pilot was reporting a fire in the left engine. 

jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Florida’s emergency room doctors say they’re seeing patients delay health care—even if they have insurance—

according to the results of a survey published by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

“Patients with health insurance were delaying health care decisions—and delayed medical care—because of their fear of high out-of-pocket expenses, high deductibles or high co-insurance,“ says Dr. Andrew Bern, a South Florida emergency physician and a spokesperson for ACEP.

Among the findings from ER doctors in Florida:

Sammy Mack / WLRN via Giphy

There’s a plot of land behind the swimming pool at Deerfield Beach High where science teacher Kelly Caputo points to a cluster of trees out in a field.

“You can see five large Australian pines,” says Caputo. “And as beautiful as they are, they’re non-native — they take up a lot of space, water — and if we do get heavy winds, they’re probably going to create a lot of damage.”

LIP Funding Not Going Up

Oct 20, 2015

The federal government isn’t changing its budget for Florida’s charity health care. 

Foto76 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re going to the beach this weekend, you might want to check the parking prices before loading up the car—this is the first weekend of new, higher parking prices in Miami Beach.

The changes mostly affect metered parking spaces. In some neighborhoods, the meter rates will triple in cost.

You can see the change in fees broken down on the city’s website:

The change is projected to raise an additional $14 million in revenue for Miami Beach.

Castlight Health / www.castlighthealth.com/costliest-cities/

Depending on where she goes for health care, a Florida woman could spend anywhere from $32 to $494 for a human papillomavirus screening, according to a new analysis from Castlight Health.

Castlight is one of the latest organizations to map what Americans are paying for health care. The data for the study come from health care claims provided to Castlight from large, self-insured employers.

tylerericsson1/flickr

Palm Beach County is one vote closer to handing out fines for carrying small amounts of marijuana and marijuana accessories.

The county approved a preliminary reading of a law that would let police officers issue civil citations carrying a $100 fine—instead of criminal charges—for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana.

If it passes, the civil citation option would be available in unincorporated Palm Beach County. Municipalities within the county would still have to opt in. West Palm Beach has already passed a rule allowing for the civil citations.

Children who get health insurance through Medicaid go to the dentist about half as often as children in Florida who have private insurance, according to a new study out from the American Dental Association and the Health Policy Institute.

Health Care Cost Institute / healthcostinstitute.org

The true cost of health care is notoriously secret, but an analysis out this week from the Health Care Cost Institute offers a glimpse into how insurance companies spend money in Florida.

“Inpatient prices and outpatient prices can differ within the same area,” says Eric Barrette, director of research for HCCI. “The mix of services isn’t always related to the prices.”

Marcolm / freedigitalphotos.net

When Uwe Reinhardt tries to explains the Gordian Knot of hospital pricing to his health care economics students at Princeton University, he has a go-to metaphor:

“It's almost like blindfolding people, shoving them into Macy's and saying, ‘buy — efficiently — for a shirt.’ Well you come out with a pair of shorts,” says Reinhardt.

Pages