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Report Outlines Who in Florida Could Lose Medicaid Coverage

About 119,000 Florida veterans rely on Medicaid for their health care, according to a new report. (Pippalou/morguefile)
About 119,000 Florida veterans rely on Medicaid for their health care, according to a new report. (Pippalou/morguefile)
May 30, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – While many Floridians honored the sacrifices of military members over the holiday weekend, some also are calling on Congress to honor the nation's promises to veterans, as the possibility looms for devastating cuts to their health benefits.

According to a new report from Families USA and VetVotes, about 1.75 million veterans nationwide, and close to 120,000 in Florida, rely on Medicaid and would see those benefits weakened or lost under the Republican legislation.

Report co-author Andrea Callow, the associate director of Medicaid initiatives, says veterans often face complex medical challenges stemming from their service, including mental-health issues and chronic pain.

"All sort of high-touch, intensive services needed to treat veterans' health-care conditions," she says. "And these expensive services will be the first to go, because when you're looking for savings, you're looking for expenses."

Only 40 percent of Florida veterans are enrolled in VA health plans, and Callow says many already have trouble accessing care due to transportation issues and waiting lists.

Republicans say their plan to provide Medicaid block grants would give states more flexibility in dispersing those funds, but critics say a lump sum would greatly limit what the state can do.

Karen Clay is a board member of the Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology who has a son who needs 24-hour care for his disabilities, currently provided at home through a Medicaid waiver. She says rolling back Medicaid would dramatically affect people like him, and the many service members who have suffered injuries.

"People will no longer have a path to staying in their homes, to living in their communities, and we will go back to the dark ages of institutional care and death," she says.

Although Florida is not one of the states that expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, about four million Floridians get their health care through Medicaid, including 19 percent of the state's seniors and 48 percent of its children.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - FL