Although I’ve been a resident in the state of Florida for sixteen years, the obstinacy of its politicians never ceases to amaze me. According to The New York Times, Florida has the 4th highest unemployment rate in the U.S., the second highest rate of uninsured people and a $3.7 billion budget gap, yet the state’s governor and his legislators had the temerity to refuse federal monies that came from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and is not pursuing federal grants. This is an outrage. The citizens of Florida who are not independently wealthy will invariably die from neglect.
Who, in their right mind, leaves $8.3 million on the table? That’s exactly what happened to the Osceola County Health Department in Kissimmee, Florida. They worked diligently to qualify and apply for a grant that would have allowed them to construct a new clinic building and women’s center for the indigent and uninsured, but the Florida state legislators refused to accept the grant. So, where does that leave the health department and the county residents?
The governor, along with the Florida legislators has removed the freedom of choice from Medicaid patients and forced them to participate in managed care Medicaid programs where their fate will be in the hands of insurance clerks who have been given directives to authorize minimal care in order to boast company profits. So far, Florida has refused the following Affordable Care Act grants:
- $4.2 million to move long-term care patients out of nursing homes
- $3.4 for child and maternal home visits
- $2.8 million in teen pregnancy and STD prevention
- $2 million to enroll eligible Medicare recipients
- $2 million for Medicaid reimbursement for Pediatric Hospice Patients
- $1 million to strengthen state review of insurance premium increases
- $1 million for health insurance exchange planning
- $500,000 for long term care resource planning
As a direct consequence of these acts, services will be cut and jobs eliminated. It has already happened at two Florida county health departments. A friend of mine, Dr. T. Richardson, posed these questions that bear repeating. Will the governor eliminate farm subsidies as well? What about failed orange crops? Federal aid to schools? Will there be no more girls’ hockey? Where does one draw the line?
I never thought I’d see the day when the warped philosophy of a few, affects the health and well-being of many. When you cut off your nose to spite your face, the entire body suffers.