The 27,000 Floridians who count on the medically needy program are caught in a political crossfire. A House committee Friday okayed a budget that includes money for them and cuts taxes, but the Senate and governor say you can't do both.
Vickie Weber can't understand why lawmakers would push for more tax breaks at the same time they want to severely cut Florida's medically needy program.
She desperately needs the program to cover costs of her treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain and most recently, a broken foot she suffered in a fall.
Vickie Weber, a medically needy patient, says, “The priorities are just out of sync because those of us who need this medical attention, this medical care, really should come first. We don't have any other options to fall back on.”
Jeb Bush wants a $91 million tax cut to benefit investors. The Florida Senate is moving a $48 million sales tax holiday for back-to-school shoppers. Even so, both say the state can't afford $72 million for the medically needy program that provides life-saving health care to 27,000 disabled Floridians.
But members of the House budget committee say the state shouldn't have to choose between tax cuts and medically needy. Their budget, this pile of documents here pays for both.
As committee members signed off on the tax cut plan. Rep. Gayle Harrell said the House is prepared to fight for the medically needy too.
“I think there's adequate funds there to do both. You just need to be realistic in what the resources are out there, and perhaps the Senate needs to look at our budget,” says Rep. Gayle Harrell, (R) Port St. Lucie, FL.
In the meantime, medically needy patients must spend the remaining weeks of the legislative session caught in the political crossfire, wondering if they'll have health care when the dust settles.
The full House and Senate will both vote on their spending plans next week, then go into conference committee to hash out their differences.
Session is due to end April 30.