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Thousands Sign Petitions Urging Governor Crist and Legislative Leaders to Save Healthcare Coverage for 40,000 Floridians
Date:4/23/2008

n just one week after asking the hospital community and its supporters to speak out on the cuts. In addition to the petitions, about 42,000 e-mails were sent to members of the Senate and House Health and Human Services appropriations committees urging them not to cut the two Medicaid programs.

The Medically Needy program serves nearly 20,000 of the state's "working poor" and provides coverage to patients with chronic illnesses, catastrophic injuries, and organ transplants. The Medicaid/Aged and Disabled program -- targeted by the Senate for total elimination -- provides healthcare coverage for about 24,000 low-income elderly and people who are permanently or totally disabled.

"Many poor and sick Floridians hope legislators will think hard about the real life and death consequences of cutting these programs," said Mary Ellen Ross of Delray Beach, executive director of the Florida Transplant Survivors Coalition. Ross has been in the Medically Needy program since 1999, when she received a liver and bone marrow transplant. "If Medically Needy takes the hit lawmakers are proposing, it will cut the only lifeline available to uninsured victims of traumatic accidents and catastrophic illness, along with organ transplant recipients. It could literally mean death to many of these people."

In the petition, supporters asked the Governor and legislative leaders to invest $158 million in state funding into the hospital component of the Medically Needy and Medicaid/Aged and Disabled programs, which will allow Florida to draw down another $196 million in federal funds already earmarked to help the state's poor and sick.

Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, called the Legislature's plans to eliminate or cut back on these programs a "terrible" mistake. Carvalho noted that the Medically Needy program is a "safety net for all Floridians" because it provides healthcare coverage to citizens who are uninsured or suddenly lose
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SOURCE Florida Hospital Association; Safety Net Hospital Allianceof
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