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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Corrine Brown calls Scott's VA lawsuit 'inappropriate, unprecedented'

10

June

Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, sent a scathing letter to Gov. Rick Scott calling his lawsuit seeking state access to federal VA records "inappropriate, unprecedented," and suggesting it "could be a violation of the law."

Scott directed his health care agency to file the suit last week after federal officials refused attempts to gain access to record amid the national controversy over the veterans hospitals.

Brown, a member of the House VA committee, goes on to write:

"Ironically, the same agency you directed to make these unauthorized visits, purportedly out of a concern for the quality of healthcare being provided to our veterans, has failed to provide health services to 900,000 deserving Floridians. Even more troubling, the $55 Billion dollars being provided by the federal government to expand Medicaid to uninsured Floridians is made up of taxes Floridians have already sent to Washington. Yet just like the federal funds for high speed rail that were refused by the governor and quickly disbursed to other states, this funding for Medicaid expansion will eventually be accepted by other states who choose to provide health coverage to their residents. Meanwhile, the majority of Florida’s nearly one million uninsured citizens would continue to go without insurance."

Full letter below. Dear Governor Scott:

I am writing to express my grave concern that employees of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, at your specific direction, have entered and questioned staff at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facilities in Florida. Neither you as the Governor, nor any of your state agency personnel, have any authority over our nation’s federal agencies or activities. Your failure to acknowledge and respect the separate role of state and federal government is inappropriate, unprecedented, and could be a violation of the law.

Ironically, the same agency you directed to make these unauthorized visits, purportedly out of a concern for the quality of healthcare being provided to our veterans, has failed to provide health services to 900,000 deserving Floridians. Even more troubling, the $55 Billion dollars being provided by the federal government to expand Medicaid to uninsured Floridians is made up of taxes Floridians have already sent to Washington. Yet just like the federal funds for high speed rail that were refused by the governor and quickly disbursed to other states, this funding for Medicaid expansion will eventually be accepted by other states who choose to provide health coverage to their residents. Meanwhile, the majority of Florida’s nearly one million uninsured citizens would continue to go without insurance.

Additionally, the changes to the Medicaid program instituted through your requested waiver are harming patients care. One stark example is the change to the client transportation system. My office has heard from both local elected officials and providers that patients are not being provided proper transportation, and this inadequate transportation is jeopardizing the safety and health of the Medicaid patients. In fact, my congressional offices have even heard reports of people being dropped off at incorrect addresses, patients being driven by drivers who are unprepared or lack knowledge of their specific health needs, and even cases where patients have been lost and their families subsequently had to file a missing person’s report just to locate them – again -- because of the disastrous implementation of the transportation portion of your Medicaid waiver program.

This coupled with the continued problems at the Department of Children and Families, including their repeated failure to protect vulnerable children, Enterprise Florida’s failure to create jobs or account for funding, the Department of Economic Opportunity’s failure to provide jobless benefits for Florida citizens, and the repeated scandals at the Orlando Expressway Authority, make it clear that there are serious oversight issues at your own state agencies.

Our Veterans Affairs Committee, headed by Chairman Jeff Miller, other oversight committees in the House and Senate, and the agencies Office of Inspector General are fully capable of providing proper oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Florida VA treats over 546,874 veterans, and provides healthcare that has consistently been rated in the top 10% nationwide for the care of our veterans. I assure you that I and every Member of Congress are committed to ensuring the proper care of our veterans.

I would recommend that you and the state agencies you oversee focus on the many serious problems facing the citizens of Florida due to the dangerous budget cuts implemented by you and your allies in the state legislature, and your refusal to accept $55 Billion in federal funds that would provide health services for the working poor while bringing down overall healthcare cost for the state.

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 5:40pm]

    

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