Rick Scott has earned a well deserved reputation as a one man death panel, and the Republicans in the Florida legislature are always eager to help him keep it. So this year, even as Florida boasts a $635.4 million surplus, Scott wants another billion in tax cuts. You'll never guess what's going to get slashed to help pay for them. Yes. Another 718 health department positions will have to go, and 9,000 sick children are getting the boot from the Children's Medical Services program:
Six-year-old Aref Shabaneh is almost entirely blind, able to read only in Braille, walks with a cane, and is so sensitive to light his parents turn them off when he's home. For two years, he was enrolled in a taxpayer-funded health care program that provided specialists to help protect what little is left of his eyesight.
In June, Florida health administrators declared in a memo that the little boy was "NOT clinically eligible."
His severely detached retina had not been miraculously cured by doctors. Instead, state records show, Aref had been tossed from the program by state health employees looking to cut costs. They made the move after his mother failed to see the trap door hidden in a questionnaire from the Florida Department of Health — a "screening tool" that one judge declared invalid in September, but the Department of Health is fighting to reinstate.
Emails and other records obtained by the Herald show the screening process imposed earlier this year was part of a deliberate attempt to reduce spending on kids like Aref — by making the number of youngsters in a program called Children's Medical Services shrink to line up with the money the state wanted to spend...
...Aref is among about 9,000 Florida children who have been purged from Children's Medical Services since May as part of a wholesale reorganization of the program in conjunction with a new state law. The law, passed in 2011, changed CMS from a Medicare-like fee-for-service plan, where the child goes to a doctor and the insurer pays the bill, into state-run managed care, in which the state sets aside a pot of money — which is capped — and hires insurers to divvy it up.
This is what's referred to as "rationing health care," the term Republicans used in the past to scare people when those like Rick Scott were fighting to block "Obamacare." They called this a "death panel," as you'll recall. Of course, the ACA didn't ration health care and there were no "death panels," but they DO exist. Rick Scott and the Florida GOP have created them.
The Miami Herald obtained thousands of pages of health department documents under the state's public records law, including nearly 800 emails and hundreds of memos and reports that detailed the state's plan to "restructure" CMS. They show that the elimination of children from CMS was the result of a plan to slash spending on sick kids at a time when Florida had a $635.4 million surplus. For the legislative session that begins next month, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed $1 billion in new tax cuts. The spending plan would eliminate an additional 718 health department positions.
This sad exercise has been orchestrated to hurt some of the most vulnerable children in Florida, and it's happening as Rick Scott repeats his tired mantra of looking out for "Florida families," and it's truly sickening:
September of this year: Judge Slaps Florida For Purging Sick Kids From Treatment Program
Yet Scott and the GOP keep fighting against caring for these children, and Scott keeps slashing health care everywhere he can while the GOP help him out with creative ways to do it, like giving health insurance companies the benefit of raising premiums if they so choose, while falsely blaming it on the ACA. And now, even as he and the legislature refuse to budge on expanding Medicaid, they're pouring salt into the wounds of those who have no way to fight back, despite court rulings.
[Phyllis] Sloyer, who ran the program for 14 years, says the constant cutting appears to be leading to an inevitable end: the elimination of CMS as a health care program altogether. "The service delivery arm of CMS — the clinics, the care coordinators, the provider network — if you look at the number of children being removed from the program, you have to question whether you've got a viable program."
Happy Holidays, kids! Love, Rick
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