The Florida House of Representatives Health Care Appropriations Committee has made a proposal that will destroy the cost-effective and highly efficient network of care for pregnant women and infants in the state of Florida.
For the last 19 years, thirty-one non-profit Healthy Start Coalitions across the state have responded to their community’s unique needs to assure pregnant women get adequate prenatal care and other critical educational and counseling services to assure their babies are born healthy. The Coalitions are instrumental in leveraging additional funding through public-private partnerships, thereby reducing government costs for these services. Healthy Start Coalitions have monitored maternal and child health care needs in their individual areas and provided education to professionals and the public in order to prevent health problems which could affect mothers and infants.
The FL House of Rep’s budget proposal does not make fiscal or ethical sense:
- The savings from eliminating the Healthy Start Coalitions’ systems of care will save the state $4 million. Last year, the Coalitions leveraged $32 million additional dollars to provide these high-risk services….that’s $28 million that the state did not have to pay! Does this make sense?
- The proposal wants to cut the Coalitions and make the county health departments administer these specialized prenatal education and counseling services. Only 42 out of 67 county health departments even offer prenatal care or see pregnant women! Does this make sense?
- The Coalitions have fine-tuned the risk screening process, reduced barriers that exist between the public and private sectors of health care, established reliable provider networks, and responded to local needs. County health departments are not equipped to do this and in some instances are restricted from performing some of these activities. Does this make sense?
The FL Senate in its wisdom has elected not to eliminate Healthy Start Coalitions because they know it makes fiscal and ethical sense now and in the future to help prevent low birth weight, prematurity, or fetal or infant death. During the week of April 5th, the House and Senate will meet to negotiate the final budget.
Please support the continuation of this vital network of public-private partnerships which help keep tax-payers costs down. Contact your legislator NOW – time is literally of the essence—to tell them you support what 19 years of experience has accomplished: healthier pregnancies and babies. Keep the Healthy Start Coalitions alive and well in Florida.
Visit http://flsenate.gov/Legislators/index.cfm to find your legislators’ contact information.
Legislators are meeting EARLY NEXT WEEK, so please contact them as soon as possible!
For a sample letter, click here.
For a downloadable and printable fact sheet, click here.