Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

John Romano: Florida's children sacrificed for pennies

This is what we brag about in Florida:

• A tax cut on cellphone bills that saves residents about $1.70 per month.

• A rollback on vehicle registration fees that saves a car owner about $2 a month.

• Tax cuts on private plane repairs, yacht repairs, hunting and fishing licenses and gun club memberships.

And this is what we try to hide in Florida:

• A scheme to bounce thousands of sick and desperate kids out of the state's Children's Medical Services (CMS) program.

• An unacknowledged moratorium on admissions to CMS, including newborns with severe cardiac ailments.

• The elimination of more than 700 Department of Health positions.

This shameful reduction of care for medically fragile kids was revealed by a recent Miami Herald investigation that should be stunning, but is pathetically predictable.

This is what happens when you continually cut taxes for corporations and millionaires. This is what happens when you cost the state hundreds of millions in revenue just so you can brag about cutting individual taxes roughly equivalent to a cup of coffee a month.

In the end, this is what happens when you care more about your political aspirations than the state's most vulnerable residents.

The Herald report detailed how state legislators passed a law in 2011 that severely undercut funding for CMS, and subsequently led health department officials to come up with a plan that has purged 9,000 children from the program in the past six months.

This would include children who are going blind. Or have cleft palates. Or HIV.

What's worse is this wasn't some bumbling mistake. The Herald discovered a CMS memo that spelled out the proposed purge as part of a three-year strategic plan.

The idea was that these poverty-level children could be reassigned to Medicaid, which would save the state money even if it guaranteed the level of care would be far less.

This plan came just months after a circuit judge already ruled legislators had violated federal law by artificially setting the state's Medicaid reimbursement rate too low, which effectively chased doctors from the plan and put impoverished children at risk.

Nice legacy, huh?

You may recall earlier this year state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, asking his colleagues to go to war with him against expanding Medicaid.

He called it questionable care, and said you were 97 percent more likely to die on Medicaid. He said he would "fight with my last breath to keep you off Medicaid.''

And all that time, the Legislature was forcing some of Florida's most severely disabled children off the CMS plan and into Medicaid.

So, now that you will soon be House speaker, what are you going to do about this, Rep. Corcoran?

This is not an argument about "able-bodied'' adults without jobs or health insurance. This is not an argument about people abusing drugs, tobacco or alcohol.

This is about helpless children with the odds stacked against them.

Do we really want to be the state that cares more about eliminating manufacturing taxes than caring for newborns? Do we want to be the state that thinks corporate giveaways are more valuable than children's lives?

Is this the Florida we want to live in?

For, if it is, this is our shame.

John Romano: Florida's children sacrificed for pennies 12/07/15 [Last modified: Monday, December 7, 2015 8:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa murder suspect told police he wanted to stop neo-Nazi roommates from committing acts of domestic terrorism

    Criminal

    TAMPA — After he admitted to shooting two roommates and led police to their dead bodies, Devon Arthurs said he committed the killings to prevent the pair from carrying out terrorist acts, according to a new court filing.

    Devon Arthurs, 18, told police  he shared neo-Nazi beliefs with his roommates, Jeremy Himmelman and Andrew Oneschuk, until he converted to Islam, according to a police report.
[Tampa Police]
  2. Pinellas School Board approves plan that aims to close achievement gap

    K12

    After months of behind-the-scenes negotiations, the Pinellas County School Board on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan that aims to tackle the achievement gap in 10 years and settles a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students.

    "I'm an optimist. I think this is going to work," Pinellas School Board member Linda Lerner said Tuesday after the board was presented with a plan that aims to settle a long-running lawsuit over the education of black students and close the achievement gap. The board voted 7-0 to approve the plan. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. With big concerts approaching, Tampa Bay venues remain vigilant after Manchester attack

    Public Safety

    In the aftermath of an explosion that killed at least 22 people — including children — moments after a pop concert ended in England on Monday night, local venues are assuring the public that security will continue to be tight at the Tampa Bay area's upcoming big-ticket shows.

    Fans cross Himes Avenue in Tampa toward Raymond James Stadium before the start of Beyonce's Formation World Tour in Tampa on April 29, 2016. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  4. Kahwa Coffee to open second drive-thru store in St. Petersburg

    Retail

    Kahwa Coffee will open its 12th location and fourth with a drive-thru in a former "farm store" in St. Petersburg.

    Kahwa Coffee will open its 12th location and fourth with a drive-thru in a former "farm store" in St. Petersburg.
[Times file photo]

  5. Editorial: Pie-in-the-sky Pier thinking

    Editorials

    A consultant's report commissioned by the city makes quite the case for feeling good about the new St. Petersburg Pier. The $80 million cost would be worth every dime because in just its first year of operation, the report from Lambert Advisory predicts, the Pier will create an economic impact of — you guessed it …

    A consultant’s report commissioned by the city makes quite the case for feeling good about the new St. Petersburg Pier. The reality is less tidy.