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Florida Abandons Paralyzed, Ventilator-Dependent 21-Year-Old Who Needs 24-Hour Skilled Nursing Care

POMPANO BEACH, Fla., April 8, 2008 /PRNewswire/ -- The State of Florida has suddenly cut off all funding of a ventilator-dependent paraplegic who needs 24-hour skilled nursing care. Phillip Starling suffers from cerebral palsy and is developmentally delayed. He can't move his paralyzed left side. He can only breathe with the help of a ventilator. He has very little strength in the right side of his body. His whole lower body is paralyzed.

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Until Phillip turned 21, he was deemed eligible for Medicaid. But Florida's birthday present to him was to deny him any future funding. The Florida Agency for Persons with Disabilities now says Phillip, who can't even get out of his wheelchair by himself, can live on his own. Its report concludes that "Mr. Starling can make his needs known verbally, loves to cook, wants to attend mechanical school and can propel his motorized wheelchair independently." Their conclusions are what officials of Broward Children's Center, where Phillip is a resident, have called "one of the most egregiously negligent assessments of anyone with disabilities they have seen in more than 30 years. Apparently, the state believes Phillip has a future as an auto mechanic."

Renee Starling, Phillip's mother, is equally aghast. "This is the second time Phillip has been practically thrown in the street. When he was three years old our insurance company refused to cover him any longer -- dropped him, just like that. Now, based upon a ludicrous assessment, the state is abandoning him. It should be obvious to anyone that Phillip can't lead his life on his own. How any qualified professional could conclude that Phillip can cook, let alone live independently, is simply beyond belief."

According to Marjorie Evans, CEO of Broward Children's Center, "Phillip is entitled to full benefits. When he turned 21, the Agency for Persons with Disabilities told us he could be moved into our group home. But now, they're going back on their word, refusing to pay for care they already approved. I don't think Florida should make up its budget deficit by abandoning some of our most medically fragile, helpless young people -- especially not after they agreed to it."

For more information about Phillip, contact Broward Children's Center at 954-410-4410.

SOURCE Broward Children's Center
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