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FL League of Women Voters to Legislators: "What Were You Thinking"?

July 11, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida League of Women Voters is slamming the state Legislature for refusing to spend $2 million to help the elderly stay out of nursing homes. By failing to fork over the funds, Florida's legislative leadership in effect returned $35 million in federal matching funds to Washington.

League president Deirdre Macnab asks what the legislature was thinking.

"This is really an unfortunate, quite a disgraceful decision, I think, by the state, particularly when we are sending people into nursing homes. The state has just cut funding by almost 10 percent to nursing homes."

In recent months, Florida has forfeited $54 million in grants because the funds were related to the federal Affordable Healthcare Act. Florida and 25 other states are challenging the Act's "individual mandate" in court, while other states are accepting the funds.

Macnab admits these are difficult economic times in Florida, but she says the state needs less partisanship and more policy based on economic sense.

"Because of our state's refusal to participate in any way in the federal health care plan, and in particular this program, we are going to be spending our own state money at almost twice as much, $80,000 a year, to put these people in nursing homes."

Studies show that if seniors are forced into nursing homes because of a lack of community support, many could end up requiring even more state dollars for care, when they deplete their savings and become Medicaid-eligible.

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL