Last week, Gov. Rick Scott signed the state’s budget, which proposed reductions to health services for women and children. He also vetoed millions more in health service projects set aside specifically for women and children. Programs that aim to lower infant mortality and increase women’s health in the state have seen a major setback since Scott took office.
#Among the many vetoes from last week: a program that would add a test for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency Disease, or SCID, to the list of genetic diseases newborns are tested for in Florida.
According to Tampa’s Channel 10 news, “lawmakers approved a $2 million start-up plan” to add the $5 test to the list. Scott, though, last week vetoed it, along with other health services for women and children:
Dr. John Sleasman, a USF professor and an immunologist at All Children’s Hospital, also finds the veto hard to understand. “I was a little baffled,” he says. #Sleasman says the screening not only saves lives but, in the long run, it would also save the state money. He says if SCID is caught early, a bone marrow transplant can cure a baby. The survival rate is very high. But after three months of age, the risks and costs skyrocket. If an infant is on Medicaid, the state can pay a million dollars for treatment and still not save the infant’s life.Sleasman says Scott, with his red veto marker, marked some babies for death. “It bothers me. By delaying it for a year or two, more babies will die needlessly.”Some experts predict that, without early screening, eight to ten babies will die of SCID in Florida each year.
Scott signed a budget drafted by the state Legislature that cut funding for Healthy Start coalitions in Florida about 15 percent across the board. Healthy Start also lost $700,000 for programs in Orange and Gadsden counties that would have provided at-home nurse assistance for at-risk first-time mothers. #