Medically Needy Program on Chopping Block

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

Tallahassee, FL - Mary Ellen Ross had a liver and bone marrow transplant in 1999. She was in the capitol to tell the story of the medically needy.

“I don’t want to die,” Ross said.

Kidney recipient German Vivas is in the same dire straits.

“I will not survive,” Vivas said.

200,000 Floridians depend on the Medically Needy program to survive. The program costs the state 671 million dollars a year. It was completely eliminated in the Senate’s budget.

In German’s case, his 18 hundred dollar a month income doesn’t come close to leaving enough to cover the cost of medications to keep him from rejecting his transplanted kidney. He says health shouldn’t be for just the the wealthy.

“Low income people also donate their organs,” he said. “They need to have a right to receive transplanted organs.”

If the program goes away, there’s only one place for people to get care, the emergency room, and the public is still going to pay.

But after spending hundreds of thousands on each transplant, the state is saying it is too poor to take care of the medical investments it has made. Ross says that doesn’t make sense.

“Wouldn’t it be better to keep us in good health, so we wouldn’t have to use the hospital system?” Ross asked.

There is one ray of hope. It is early in the budget process and the Senate President says the medically needy will survive once lawmakers start negotiating.

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