Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Politics

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.

Comments
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition canceled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under former P...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

Spring Hill candidate for Congress: ‘I care about this community — I will scream that from the rafters’

SPRING HILL — A Hernando County woman new to the political arena has filed as the fifth Democrat to run against longtime Florida lawmaker U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster for his spot in the U.S. House of Representatives.Dana Cottrell, 49, has lived in Sprin...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

Special counsel files new charge in Russia probe

WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election charged an attorney Tuesday with lying to federal investigators about his interactions with a former Trump campaign official. A charging document filed in federa...
Published: 02/20/18
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Published: 02/20/18
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Published: 02/19/18
President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Donald Trump signaled support for one piece of gun control legislation on Monday, five days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead and scores injured."The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal...
Published: 02/19/18
Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

One of the quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign that has stuck with me came from an unidentified Donald Trump supporter who shared his appraisal of the "Access Hollywood" tape on an episode of Showtime’s "The Circus."Having heard Trump boast on...
Published: 02/18/18
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Published: 02/18/18