Counting the human toll of budget cuts
Senators who oversee health and human services spending slogged through dozens of proposed budget cuts Wednesday, including eliminating the Medically Needy program to about 16,000 people, most of them transplant recipients or victims of catastrophic illnesses as of Nov. 1. (As of that date, only children and pregnant women would be eligible under the program).
"This will eliminate pharmaceutical care for some people, and if they don't have that, they could die," said Tony Carvalho, a lobbyist for Florida's 14 so-called safety net hospitals that provide the highest levels of care to poor people.
Another cut would save $25-million by ending dental and hearing services for adult Medicaid recipients (an estimated 600,000 Florida adults are on Medicaid).
The committee chairman, Sen. Durell Peaden, R-Crestview, emphasized that the cuts are tentative, not final, and subject to some extensive negotiations with the House, but that didn't assuage the concerns.
"We are really destroying a lot of the work that we did over the past few years," said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston.
The panel is also considering eliminating 724 full-time jobs in the Department of Children & Families and cutting $8.5-million to Tampa's Johnnie Byrd Alzheimer's research center.