Suit: Medicaid shorts poor kids on preventive care

Published Nov. 23, 2005|Updated Nov. 23, 2005

The state's Medicaid system is not giving poor and disabled children the preventive health care services they are entitled to, according to a lawsuit.

The Florida Pediatric Society and the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry joined five families in the lawsuit filed Monday. Defendants are the state Agency for Health Care Administration, the Department of Children and Families and the Health Department.

The Medicaid program is violating federal law by operating a health system for the poor that sets reimbursement rates too low to keep enough doctors and dentists in the program, according to the lawsuit.

Alan Levine, the Agency for Health Care Administration secretary, agreed that Florida's Medicaid system is flawed. Gov. Jeb Bush has received federal permission to try to overhaul it during the Legislature's special session beginning Dec. 5, he said.

"Under the current system, there is not one single incentive to get children in the door for well child checkups, and that's what the governor has proposed to change," Levine said.ESPN founder's libel suit against paper dismissed NAPLES - The Naples Daily News did not libel ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen in its coverage of the Stadium Naples golf arena public corruption trial, a judge ruled.

Senior Circuit Judge Jack Schoonover dismissed Rasmussen's lawsuit Monday.

Rasmussen claimed the Daily News made defamatory statements about him in news articles or editorials published between July 2002 and January 2004. He sought $5-million in damages.

Schoonover said Rasmussen could not prove the statements were false and made with "actual malice" - the standard for libel.

The Daily News coverage dealt with accusations that Rasmussen conspired to trade financial incentives for Collier County commissioners' votes favorable to the aborted Stadium Naples project.

Rasmussen, originally charged with racketeering conspiracy and communications fraud, pleaded guilty in August 2002 to misdemeanors and was given two years of probation. - WIRE REPORTS