Consumer health advocates say Florida lawmakers made a mistake in turning away federal health care dollars

07/21/11 Kate Bradshaw
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State lawmakers turned away tens of millions in federal money for health care by refusing to apply for grants, giving money back, or saying thanks, but no thanks. Among those hardest hit were low income seniors and families. A group of consumer health care advocates gathered today to put a face on those lost dollars. One was Mike Cornelius.

Cornelius said his wife suffered an incapacitating injury. The family sought help from Money Follows the Person, a transitional program launched under the Bush Administration. Cornelius said the program allowed him to continue working and keep his wife out of a nursing home, which may have otherwise bankrupted him.

He said his situation was easier than most – he has a job. He said others aren’t so lucky. With the state’s rejection of Affordable Care Act dollars, grant money that might have attracted more than $37 million in funding for the program is gone. The same goes for one that sends caregivers to the homes of expectant mothers. Caseworker Jennifer Trujillo, pregnant with twins, said the program has been a vital resource for her, since this is her first pregnancy. She said she and her husband are in a good spot, but many low income mothers would suffer without the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program.

She said she’s concerned about the long term impacts of losing funding for the program.

Patrick Cannon, Advocacy Director for Florida Community Health Action Information Network, agreed, and said the same goes for many people who benefit from programs that were set to receive money from the Affordable Care Act.

State lawmakers turned down federal dollars from these programs last month, claiming that they didn’t want to take the money while litigation against the fed’s Affordable Care Act is impending. Former Florida attorney general Bill McCollum launched that suit, and his successor Pam Bondi kept it up. More than two dozen state have joined, though some of the states participating in the suit have taken federal dollars.

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