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Every day, hundreds of sick and injured patients walk into free and charitable clinics around the Tampa Bay area in need of a doctor.Many are suffering from chronic conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Some patients were referred to the clinics by staff at hospitals where they landed after years of neglecting to care for treatable conditions.The clinics allow the patients to pay what they can, or nothing at all. They are staffed by doctors and nurses who volunteer their time. They survive off donations and small grants.Many of the patients have jobs but they are living paycheck to paycheck. None have health insurance, either because they do not qualify for Medicaid or can’t afford private coverage. For these patients, the clinics are often their only option for primary care.

Mental Health Advocates Call for Budget Repair

Miami Herald

Gov. Rick Scott’s decision to leave mental-health spending where it stands after $24 million in cuts last year troubles advocates for patients, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports. Scott has proposed a budget of $722.7 million for mental health.

They also worry the state won’t expand Medicaid, which could help pay for mental health services, according to the News-Journal.  At Stewart-Marchman-Act Behavioral Healthcare, which serves mostly uninsured patients from Volusia and Flagler counties, there’s a three-month waiting list for care.  If Medicaid is expanded, the CEO of the agency says, 90 percent of the patients would have insurance coverage.

Meanwhile, the case of a mentally ill man accused of stabbing a police officer who escaped from an assisted living facility highlights the problems with Florida’s mental health system, the Miami Herald reports. The judge called his transfer to a Little Havana facility and subsequent escape a “travesty” and noted the bureaucracy involved in getting funding for his treatment. The 72-year-old is now housed in a secure state psychiatric hospital, the Herald reports.  

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.