Fla. Senate Budget Committee Approves Cuts to Medical Needy Program

The Florida Senate Budget Committee spent Friday wrapping up work on its plan to cut spending by nearly $4 billion. Faced with a massive shortfall in revenues, republican leaders have ruled out the prospect of raising taxes, leading to some difficult and emotional decisions.

All through the recession, state lawmakers have been careful to avoid cutting programs directly affecting Florida’s most vulnerable, but now republicans say there's no other way to overcome a record deficit.

The Senate Budget Committee voted to gut Florida's medically-needy program. It takes care of medical expenses, primarily for people who are transplant survivors and have a difficult time paying for their medications.

If the cut passes the full legislature, that drug benefit will be eliminated come April of next year.

Democrats on the committee condemn the vote as a dereliction of duty.

“I just think it's not good enough for us, as a Legislature, as a state, to leave here and pass legislation that would really sentence people to death,” said Sen. Nan Rich, D-Minority Leader.

Ultimately two republicans, Mike Fasano and Thad Altman, joined with democrats in voting 'no', but it wasn't enough to overcome the argument that money to save the program just isn't there.

“Let's debate it and talk about it, but let's don't just simply say, 'we're sentencing people to death',” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine. “I take great exception to that.”

Cutting the medically-needy program is only the latest drastic action the panel's taken. They've also voted to overhaul Florida’s pension program and even to cut Gov. Scott's security detail.

Legislative leaders say they're about a week ahead of schedule on budget negotiations. They could finish in time to submit the final product to Gov. Scott early, allowing lawmakers the option of overriding any vetoes.


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  • by Esther Location: WPB, Fl. on Apr 3, 2011 at 01:58 PM
    A society is known by how it takes care of its needy and most helpless individuals. To elimate their drugs to cause them more pain and suffering even death is to be without a soul. Why don't you cut some of your own expenses and perks. Now that would be a great start. These people don't vote so maybe you see them as being without representation. I do vote, my friends vote and if you persist in doing this then you should know that you will not be re-elected.
  • by Barbara Location: Florida on Apr 3, 2011 at 09:21 AM
    How come drugs that transplant people have to have is so high? If the budget committee is going to stop helping these prople buy their drugs,then chances are they will die.They are "medically needy" people that go to the doctor all the time and they never follow the doctors orders.Them going all the time hogs up the money from the people that actually need it.If you're going to go to the doctor, follow what he says or stop going.
  • by Sandi Location: Casselberry on Apr 3, 2011 at 08:51 AM
    Why are legislators making thousands of dollars when I am expected to live on less than $1400/mo? This is supposed to pay for my housing, food, medical & any other expenses. I can't get food stamps; I get $100/mo over the amt to qualify - medical does not add in to their matrix. I've been told to apply for medicaid only to find out the transplant program is being severly cut. State legislators are well aware that those of us who don't have medical insurance can't afford the operation or the meds we will have to take for the rest of our lives. Silly me, I won't need the meds because I'll be dead!! I have not commited a crime but I have been given a death sentence. When do state legislators start cutting their own money? Is the federal government going to pick up the slack? I don't want my tax dollars to go overseas to help other countries, I want the money my husband & I paid into the government for so many years to stay here & help me & others like me. I don't get to chose.
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