The Facts

We must protect our most vulnerable citizens:

The Florida Medicaid program provides vital health care benefits to 3.1 million low-income families, children, the elderly and disabled.  Half of all recipients are children.

These fellow Floridians have no other access to health insurance, and Medicaid is their only option for vital health care coverage.

For the most vulnerable among us, cutting services result in certain suffering and missed opportunities to prevent serious conditions from getting worse by intervening early. Cutting hospital funding at a time of historic need in our state would not only be harmful to our economy but detrimental to babies, children, seniors and the disabled.

The doors of Florida’s hospitals are always open to those who are sick. Florida hospitals depend on state funding to help care for our patients. Cutting the Medicaid program would be devastating to some of the poorest and sickest people in our state.  That’s not what Florida stands for.

Floridians care for each other, and we can’t let our most vulnerable citizens lose hope.

Medicaid cuts destroy jobs:

Florida already has one of the country’s highest unemployment rates, soaring over 10 percent [SB1] – well above the national average that dipped below 9 percent in late 2011. The proposed cuts will threaten the jobs of thousands of tax-paying citizens.

Florida’s hospitals are strong employment engines and are one of the only sectors creating jobs during an economic downturn. Those jobs are a vital part of our state’s economy. Health care cuts cost jobs, with the state losing 228 jobs for every $10 million lost in Medicaid funding, according to estimates from the Florida Hospital Association.

We cannot afford to give pink slips to hard-working nurses, caregivers and other hospital employees because of unwise health care budget cuts.

Hospitals lost 12.5 percent of their state funding from last year’s budget cuts that totaled half a billion dollars. More reductions could spell catastrophe especially during a time when too many Floridians continue to struggle to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Hospitals add needed fuel to Florida’s economic engine and are responsible for about 739,000 jobs in our state. For every dollar invested in hospital employment, $2.64 is pumped into the state’s economy. These hospital workers are our family members, friends and neighbors. Tell our state leaders that cutting health care jobs isn’t the way to put Florida’s ailing economy back on its feet.

Families can’t pay more hidden health care costs:

Further cuts to the program that serves our most vulnerable citizens does not reduce the cost of health care; it only shifts the burden of cost for care rendered. The costs associated with caring for patients without access to health care coverage does not go away. As hospitals are forced to shift the cost to those with private health insurance, this cut becomes a hidden tax on private insurance premiums and small business owners.

These costs are all the more painful for families suffering in the current weak economy. In 2008, Families USA estimated that these hidden health expenses cost consumers an additional $1,017 in annual premiums. Tell our state leaders to quit shifting more unpaid medical costs onto working families.

Access to health care for ALL Floridians will be threatened:

According to a recent survey by the Florida Hospital Association, the $500 million in cuts passed last Legislative Session have already led to lost jobs and a reduction in services, such as the closing of primary care clinics, OB/GYN services, skilled nursing units and outpatient chemotherapy services. As these services close, patients have no choice but to seek care from already crowded emergency departments, which will cause a ripple effect leading to patients delaying or forgoing care, sometimes leading to additional cost in the long run. Tell lawmakers to protect critical health care funding and programs.

The Consequences

Proposed health care cuts in Florida will have a ripple effect felt by everyone in the state. Patients could face longer wait times in emergency rooms, where fewer caregivers may be available to treat them. Hospitals could be forced to postpone the purchase of new equipment or the addition of life-saving technology. Access to care may be hindered.

Budget cuts will put thousands of jobs at risk in a state that already ranks above the national average in unemployment. These are jobs we can hardly afford to lose.

Lack of funding will have other negative side effects. Businesses that support hospitals such as medical labs, outpatient facilities or rehabilitation centers also would suffer. According to a Florida Hospital Association survey, some hospitals already have eliminated programs involving school nurses and mid-wives and have closed chemotherapy and primary care clinics.

State cutbacks will merely shift more costs onto hard-working Florida families who have private insurance. And with the average family deductible jumping nearly 50 percent in the past five years, this hidden tax means even more money coming out of your pocket.

Slashing programs that serve our children, frail elders, cancer victims and transplant patients will just make matters worse. Without access to routine medical care, their conditions will worsen and taxpayers will end up footing an even bigger bill for costly emergency visits and lengthy hospital stays. Short-sighted budget cuts hurt everyone.  It won’t just be the poor, disabled, children and elderly who are hurt.  As more and more hospitals and emergency rooms become overburdened, services barriers could severely compromise access to care to all patients.

We urge you to tell the Florida Legislature that while real choices need to be made to help our state at this critical time, those choice should not overwhelmingly impact our patients and those who care for them—because Health Care Cuts Don’t Heal.