While it may be exaggeration to say he wants Florida's "pill mills" to stay open, Rick Scott has smacked down a whole bunch of rules that would regulate and monitor their activity. First he announced a freeze on new rules that would help the state crack down on fly-by-night clinics, then he disbanded the Office of Drug Control, and finally he came out in opposition to a new publicly-funded prescription monitoring system that would prevent doctor shopping.
Now a whole different type of clinic -- which provides essential medical services to some of Florida's poorest individuals -- faces possible extinction under
budget cuts proposed by Scott's office.
The state provides funding for public health clinics across the state, including seven in Palm Beach County, designed to provide critical care while easing the strain on emergency rooms from people who are uninsured, homeless, or without a primary care doctor. We have a call out to Broward Health to see how their clinics would be affected.
Emergency rooms are already stressed by an influx of people without health insurance. The new federal health care bill's insurance coverage mandate could relieve some of that strain by requiring people to buy insurance, but a Florida judge recently found the mandate unconstitutional. So public health clinics, serving an important function, are left scrambling to find alternative sources of funding.
Scott's team says the proposed cuts are part of an advisory document, and don't necessarily reflect the governor's intended actions.
According to Scripps Treasure Coast newspapers, county health department clinics serve around 60,000 people a year. The clinics also receive federal Medicaid funding. Scott's team is proposing converting the clinics to a nonprofit, privately run model.
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