Medicaid waiver providers
Cuts hurt care for those with disabilities
Effective April 1, Gov. Rick Scott used his "emergency powers" to implement a drastic rate reduction for providers who serve those with developmental disabilities through the Agency for Persons with Disabilities.
What little I have seen reported on these cuts refers to a 15 percent reduction. In reality, the majority of providers are taking a much greater cut. The state implemented rates for agency providers and individual providers several years ago, realizing that agencies have additional overhead that an independent provider does not have, such as workers' compensation insurance and state unemployment taxes. All rates were taken to the lower, independent rate; then the 15 percent reduction was applied. Therefore the majority of agency providers were actually given a 30 percent-plus reduction in rates.
How will this affect the services our agency provides? All services will have to be looked at separately and hard decisions made. Pay for employees will be reduced, and many will probably not be willing to go back to minimum wage after working for our agency for 10 years or more.
Many of the people we serve have no family, and the staff they have worked with is the closest thing to family they have. I am concerned about jeopardizing the health and safety of many of these individuals.
Medicaid waiver providers have taken rate cuts for the past several years; the last rate increase was 2003. A 15 percent rate reduction would be difficult enough for providers to work with, but the 30 percent-plus reduction for agency providers is unrealistic and will ultimately harm individuals with developmental disabilities.
Beverly Williams, Tampa
Not serving the people
Have members of the Florida Legislature forgotten they are elected to serve the people and responsibly manage the resources of Florida?
I have seen the opposite of what government is supposed to be doing: educating children, making streets safer, providing infrastructure, promoting tourism. So far I have only seen a willingness to serve business interests.
Eliminating water standards will pollute our waterways, encourage harmful algal blooms, and negatively affect our drinking water, health, quality of life and tourism. Developing wetlands will result in more flooding, loss of a buffer against storms and loss of natural water filtration to clean drinking water.
Openly carrying guns will not make public areas safer, but instead make people fearful and confuse law enforcement in the event of a dangerous situation. Reducing spending for education will result in a poor and ineffective education system, more crime and lower-paying jobs. Cutting Medicaid and services to the disabled and the most vulnerable is morally wrong.
Yet lawmakers do that while giving tax cuts to the wealthy, promoting the elimination of corporate taxes and refusing to raise taxes in any form. I've had enough, and I will remember on voting day.
Theresa Cody, St. Petersburg
Governor gets hit with boos | April 2
Low class is a good description of the people who attended the Rays game to boo Gov. Rick Scott. This was supposed to be a sporting event, not a political rant. They should be ashamed to ruin the evening, especially when fallen police officers were being honored.
We should be thanking Scott for making the effort to get our state out of debt.
Betty Dobson, Brooksville
I have been a baseball fan for 60 years, but it has been years since I have recognized the national anthem. Case in point: the Rays' opening day. I was appalled at the performance by the young sax player who destroyed our beautiful anthem. I would rather they play a recording and forgo the "artist" rendition.
Michael P. Catalano, Palm Harbor
If you fail, you pay
To be fair, I suggest that if you take the drug test and pass, the state pays; if you fail, you pay.
If, as the Legislature seems to believe, huge numbers of welfare recipients and unemployed are on drugs, then the state wouldn't have to pay out very much for the few who pass. It also wouldn't look quite so much like a bold attempt by the governors' sycophants to force the poor in Florida to pay for his enormous personal campaign expenditures through fees at his wife's testing facilities.
Peter S. Cohoon, Tampa
Scott's clinics stand to gain | April 2
Legal but hardly moral
Gov. Rick Scott is an embarrassment to the state of Florida. The latest red flag is his relationship with Solantic. Just prior to his election, he transferred $62 million in shares to his wife. Legal, maybe; moral, no.
Spencer Blank, Ocala
City curfew proposed for teens | April 1
Make parents accountable
For nearly 30 years as a police officer in Pennsylvania, my father enforced a youth curfew. It was set at 10 p.m. for children under 17 on school nights and at midnight on other nights. He considered this an important part of police duty.
Parents who do not abide by such a community-established code should be chastised. It should be minimal at first, i.e., picking the child up at the police station late at night. For repeat violations there should be fines.
Timothy J. Flaherty, St. Petersburg
Untold damage left by wave of storms April 1
Quick work after storms
I want to commend Pinellas County's and Largo's emergency and cleanup crews for an excellent job in handling the aftermath of the tornado that hit last week along 130th Avenue and 113th Street in Largo.
They responded within minutes of the damage to stabilize the area and do cleanup. Trash trucks were evident in the area all day Friday to haul away our accumulated trash at curbside. The street sweeper made multiple passes to clear the roads of leaf and shingle debris.
Pinellas County employees passed out information to all in the area. As one affected by the storm, I want to extend a big thank you.
D.C. Stultz, Largo
Hundreds still homeless | April 5
Your front-page story about people who can't return to damaged homes was next to an article about a platform holding an osprey nest with two chicks that was repaired the day before. When do we make people the priority?
Judy Lavaron, St. Petersburg