Friday, June 3, 2011

More Scott line-item vetoes: Tests and programs for Florida babies

The Florida Independent
By Ashley Lopez

Gov. Rick Scott (right) with Panama City Mayor Scott Clemons (Pic via Facebook)
Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed the state’s budget, which proposed reductions to health services for women and children. He also vetoed millions more in health service projects set aside specifically for women and children. Programs that aim to lower infant mortality and increase women’s health in the state have seen a major setback since Scott took office.

Dr. John Sleasman, a USF professor and an immunologist at All Children’s Hospital, also finds the veto hard to understand. “I was a little baffled,” he says.  
Sleasman says the screening not only saves lives but, in the long run, it would also save the state money. He says if SCID is caught early, a bone marrow transplant can cure a baby. The survival rate is very high. But after three months of age, the risks and costs skyrocket. If an infant is on Medicaid, the state can pay a million dollars for treatment and still not save the infant’s life.
Scott signed a budget drafted by the state Legislature that cut funding for Healthy Start coalitions in Florida about 15 percent across the board. Healthy Start also lost $700,000 for programs in Orange and Gadsden counties that would have provided at-home nurse assistance for at-risk first-time mothers.

Florida’s ranking in the National Kids Count annual assessment dropped three places, placing Florida in the bottom third of all states. According to Kids Count, Florida ranks 29th in infant mortality rate, and 48th in children without health insurance. Alarmingly, according to information from The Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation, out of all states Florida ranks dead last in access to care in the area of children’s health. 
The same statement from Healthy Start also points out that Florida’s biggest problem is “a woman’s health status prior to pregnancy, which is related to an increase in fetal and infant deaths associated with prematurity.”

Selzer says that “Florida families — especially women — will pay the price for the misspent priorities of the 2011 legislative session.”

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