2008: cuts in services for seriously ill
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Important read and scroll all the way to the bottom. This was in 2008 and
the problems have gotten much worse every year.
From: BD POE
Sent: 4/2/2008 10:29:24 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: cuts in services for seriously ill
Since 2006 Florida's Medically needy program has been a nightmarish maze
of complexities impossible to navigate through or understand. The Department
of Children and Families has already closed most of it's
local offices already and getting them on the phone for useful, helpful,
help or info is practically impossible.
To make matters worse Doctors, Hospitals and Clinics are finding subtle
to exclude those on Medicaid or the medically needy program. The agencies
that inspect or regulate them will be cut too!
Actually these cuts go way beyond what is laid out in this article.
It's telling the critically ill citizens of Florida to wander from city to
state to state ( which is impossible for most of them ) to get quality
to stay alive!...................bdpoe
"..."We're giving them the liver and telling them you can go to Georgia
and see about having it transplanted into your body," said Rep. Kelly
Skidmore, D-Boca Raton.
Lawmakers dug into virtually every area of health spending....."
Florida lawmakers face tough cuts in services for poor, seriously ill,
To close a $3 billion gap, GOP lawmakers target many programs.
John Kennedy | Tallahassee Bureau Chief
March 28, 2008
TALLAHASSEE - Dentures and hearing aids for the poor.
Money for hospitals and nursing homes caring for the frailest Floridians.
Payments to group homes. Even health coverage for those awaiting
lifesaving organ transplants.
All are part of a grim roster of state services facing deep cuts or
outright elimination under spending plans taking shape Thursday in the House and
Struggling to close a $3 billion budget gap without raising taxes,
Republican lawmakers slashed into dozens of programs serving the poor, seriously
ill and elderly.
"It's a tough call when you have to allocate resources you just don't have
enough of," said Rep. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, chairman of the
House Health and Human Services budget committee, which outlined $1.1 billion
in state spending cuts Thursday.
Bean singled out $31.7 million to be saved by eliminating adult dental,
vision and hearing-aid services used by almost 146,000 low-income Floridians.
"If you don't have teeth, well, it's a big deal that you have teeth," Bean
said with a touch of bitterness. "And this is going to take that option
away from you."
A Senate budget panel Thursday produced its own version of the health and
social-service cuts -- slashing $803 million in state spending. The total
reductions are close to double that when federal matching funds are included
-- money lost once the state's share is erased.
"We're overwhelmed," said Katie Porta, president of Quest Inc., which
operates 11 group homes in the Orlando area and Tampa, and also provides daily
services to 1,000 developmentally disabled Floridians.
Under the House plan, Porta and other service providers across the state
face payment cuts of at least 3 percent, or about $24 million. The Senate
would cut payments even more to save $43.5 million.
"This means we don't give raises this year. We probably cut staff. And we
may even have to close one of our group homes," she said.
'Don't treat people like this'
Democrats said the severity of the proposed cuts underscores the need for
lawmakers to pump more money into the state's $70 billion budget, either by
raising taxes, closing some of the $35 billion worth of sales-tax
exemptions or by draining state reserves.
"Not everybody around here is like-minded that we have to just sit around
here and tighten our belts," said House Minority Leader _Dan Gelber_
(http://www.orlandosentinel.com/topic/us/florida/miami-dade-county/miami-beach-PLGEO100100408130000.topic) . "These are not things a
civilized community does. . . . You don't treat people like this."
But Republican leaders said tax hikes are the wrong way to ease a budget
crunch brought on by a feeble economy.
"When the economy slows down, we should slow down our spending at the same
time," said Rep. Dean Cannon, R-_Winter Park_
.topic) , in line to become House speaker in two years. "We have tried to
be thoughtful in our approach to spending reductions. But it's always true
that in any year, there are needy services we don't have the revenue to
'What's the use?'
But this spring, the sweep is dramatic.
Schools, universities, courts and all other areas of state government are
seeing reductions. The health-care cuts, however, could prove the most
"If the Medically Needy program isn't there, what's the use of giving
anyone a transplant? You can't keep them alive," said Bill Rettinger, 54, of
Hollywood, a bone-transplant recipient worried by proposed cuts to a program
that provides health coverage for almost 20,000 critically ill Floridians.
Many are transplant recipients. The Senate would restrict the program to
children and pregnant women, cutting 16,000 people to save $350 million. The
House would continue covering all in the program -- and their costly
anti-rejection medications that represent the bulk of spending.
But the House would eliminate hospitalization coverage for these patients,
possibly limiting future surgeries.
"We're giving them the liver and telling them you can go to Georgia and
see about having it transplanted into your body," said Rep. Kelly Skidmore,
Lawmakers dug into virtually every area of health spending.
The Department of Children and Families would lose 71 child
protective-services positions -- saving $4 million. County health departments, a
principal source of health care for low-income people, will be hit hard. A
cleft-palate program providing free medical evaluations to 2,305 patients would be
eliminated by the House -- saving $1.3 million -- and scaled back by the
Plan would shut TB hospital
The House also would close the nation's last free-standing tuberculosis
hospital -- A.G. Holley in Lantana -- to save $7 million, move its roughly 40
highly contagious patients and possibly sell the land. For now, the Senate
leaves the facility alone.
Hospitals and nursing homes will lose at least $350 million in Medicaid
payments, with both the House and Senate proposing to change state law to
allow nursing homes to reduce minimum-staffing requirements to offset the loss
The state set the standard in 2002 in exchange for new limits on certain
nursing-home lawsuits. State records show that since the higher staffing
levels were phased in, patient falls and injuries have declined 28 percent.
"Notices of intent" filed by lawyers planning to sue nursing homes have
declined 63 percent in that time, records show. In Orange County, seven
notices were filed last year, compared with 40 filed in 2002.
Changing the staffing levels can pose a risk to quality, lawmakers
"But we're not going to just cut the standard down to zero," said Sen.
Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services
Industry officials said easing the staffing standard is needed. But they
concede the change could affect patient care.
"It's not where we want to go," said David Sylvester, senior vice
president of Health Central Park, a Winter Garden nursing home and president of the
Florida Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes.
"But we hope it's not the number of staff but quality of staff that
counts," he added. "It's the reality we face."
The House and Senate will spend much of the legislative session's
remaining five weeks resolving their differences.
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