ZEPHYRHILLS — Mike Fasano might have stepped out of the Legislature and into the Pasco Tax Collector's Office, but he's still willing to spar with Florida agencies for Pasco residents.
The former lawmaker has taken up the cause of Selah Clanton, a developmentally delayed 9-year-old who was left severely brain damaged last year when her stroller rolled into the Erie Canal. Florida Blue, her family's health insurance company, recently notified her parents that it would no longer pay for 24-hour nursing care in their home.
Jon and Yvonne Clanton appealed. Jon Clanton is a chaplain at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, so the agency that oversees state employees' benefits reviewed the case.
On Wednesday, the Division of State Group Insurance upheld Florida Blue. The Clantons vowed to appeal further.
The state's decision drew outrage from Fasano.
"What they want to do is force this girl into a nursing home, and that is a disgrace," said Fasano, who sent emails to state Sens. John Legg, R-Trinity, and Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby; state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes; and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
"I strongly encourage you and the other members of the Pasco County Legislative Delegation to come to the support of Selah Clanton and ask the Division to reconsider its ruling and allow the in-home care to continue."
Fasano's letter comes a month after the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state, alleging that it violates the Americans With Disabilities Act in its administration of its service system for children with significant medical needs. It said nearly 200 children were unnecessarily segregated in nursing facilities when they could be served in their family homes or other community-based settings.
"To think he would take the time to help someone he doesn't even know is amazing," Yvonne Clanton said Friday.
Fasano, 55, a New Port Richey Republican, was recently appointed as Pasco County's tax collector after incumbent Mike Olson died in June. He served in the House for eight years and the Senate for a decade before again winning a House seat last year.
Lisa Buie can be reached at (813) 909-4604.