The children of Florida deserve health care now

Published: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 11:24 p.m.

Earlier this week (Jan. 27), my colleague Rep. Larry Cretul, R-Ocala, asserted in this paper that there was no immediate need to address the state's children's health insurance crisis.

Florida currently has more than 100,006 children on a waiting list for health insurance, with 622 children from Alachua County alone.

These are the children of working- and middle-class families, who either have no access to health insurance, or simply cannot afford traditional health care.

This is not only the most inhumane, but the least cost effective way to contain health care costs. Without insurance, these children have no health care alternative besides emergency rooms, where the costs are dramatically higher.

Especially with cold and flu season upon us, these young children need health care now. This decision cannot wait; any changes made during the regular session would not help these children until July 2004.

Despite the fact that Gov. Bush has admitted that we have the money to cover these children, ultimately our health insurance initiative failed because some 81 House members, including Rep. Cretul, did not think that the children in Florida were even worth addressing.

In fact, some 40 of them did not bother to even respond to the KidCare call. The children of these legislators have access to health care, but do not feel that their constituents deserve this luxury.

In a state with a $55 billion budget, certainly we can find $23 million to provide health insurance to these children.

I am proud to support this effort to take care of the children of our state, and to stand with the more than 1,500 citizens who have either e-mailed or called me to urge lawmakers to provide health insurance to the 100,000 children on the health care waiting list.

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