REPORT: Florida ‘Hurt Sick Kids To Help Big GOP Donors’ – Slashed Sick Kids’ Health Services

The Republican Party loves to promote “values,” “smaller government,” “independence,” “patriotism,” the “party of Lincoln.”

But at the end of the day, it is still the party shilling for trans-national corporations that pollute our air, wind, and water; angling to supplant the Constitution for the Bible; privatize Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public schools; sell off our national parks and monuments to the highest bidder; and turn the United States in a “free-market utopia” where women, children, racial minorities, the poor, the sick, and disabled are left to fend for themselves.

After all, that’s “freedom,” right?

However, if there is still any doubt as to where the Republican Party’s allegiances lie, look no further than what is happening in Florida, where pediatricians are coming forward admitting the state hurt sick children to help out its GOP donors.

Spring and summer of 2015, the state of Florida dropped more than 13,000 children with serious health problems like birth defects, heart disease, diabetes, and blindness, from the respected Children’s Medical Services (CMS), part of Florida’s Medicaid system, to other Medicaid insurance plans that don’t provide the same care.

Top experts in children with special health needs claim the screening method the state used to select which children would lose care is “completely invalid” and “a perversion of science.”

What’s The Screening Method?

Meredith Stroud of St. Augustine, whose son LJ was born with a severe cleft lip and palate and had a tooth push through the roof of his mouth when he was eleven, received a phone call from a Florida Department of Health nurse.

The nurse asked Stroud a litany of questions, including whether LJ was:

“…Limited in his ability to do things other children could do.”

Stroud replied no since LJ attends school and plays with friends.

It was that answer, Stroud says, that caused LJ–along with 13,074 other kids–to lose his insurance with CMS.

About the survey, Dr. Jay Berry, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School who studies policies for children with special health care needs, said:

“I personally find it pretty astonishing that they can take a survey question like that and use it to justify the de-enrolling of these kids.”

A state administrative law judge ruled in 2015 the Florida Department of Health needed to stop using its unlawful screening method. But the health department failed to automatically re-enroll the children it kicked off its program, or even reach out to affected families to inform them re-enrollment was possible.

Why Did Florida Do This?

Pediatricians and parents are asking the same question, and signs seem to be pointing toward the financial reward insurance companies are receiving for donating millions of dollars to the Florida Republican Party.

Dr. Louis St. Petery, former executive vice president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says:

“This was a way for the politicians to repay the entities that had contributed to their political campaigns and their political success, and it’s the children who suffered.”

Below is a chart from the National Institute on Money in State Politics outlining how many millions insurance companies with Florida Medicaid contracts contributed to the state Republican Party from 2010 to 2014.

Prestige Health Choice (Florida True Health, an affiliate of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, owned 40% Prestige Health Choice. In 2015, Florida True Health purchased Prestige outright.) $5,927,194
Sunshine State Health Plan $668,082
Humana $482,815
UnitedHealthcare of FL $442,500
Staywell $438,710
Coventry Healthcare of Florida (renamed Aetna Better Health of Florida, February 27, 2017) $365,000
Amerigroup Florida $232,500
Better Health & Simply Healthcare $90,000

Nearly all states pay insurance companies to insure some Medicaid patients, and insurance companies often contribute money to state political parties too.

However, Florida’s contributions appear unusually high.

According to the chart above, UnitedHealthcare’s contribution was $442,500; less than half that–$145,000–went to California Democrats.

Humana donated $482,815; to Florida Democrats it gave $213,823.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield handed over $5.9 million; but Florida Democrats received only $1.8 million.

Money is a corrosive presence in politics. Thanks to Supreme Court decisions like Buckley versus Valeo, Citizens United, and McCutcheon versus the Federal Election Commission (FEC), political donations are now considered legally protected free speech under the 14th Amendment.

This is nothing short of corporate rule, something that, yes, both parties benefit from, but Republicans seem to depend on most to rig elections and enact agenda for the corporations, of the corporations, by the corporations. 

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