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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.

Legislature Leaves Mental Health Budget To University Discretion

Universities around the state of Florida are reviewing their budget for the next year and mental health services remain a priority.

Florida’s public university system governing board wants the schools to spend some of their budget increases on mental health, even  as the legislature didn’t allocate more money specifically for those services. Florida State University’s Chief Lobbyist Kathy Mears says the move allows schools to decide how they want to spend the money.

“When Chairman Galvano, who is the chair of the higher-education funding committee, when he was asked why there was no funding line items specifically for mental health funding he said, ‘You know what? We are giving the universities money in broader categories. We want them to prioritize rather than [us] to dictate',” Mears said.

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According to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, the amount of students seeking counseling as a result of mental health has slowly climbed since 2010. The Florida Board of Governors did request additional funds specifically for mental health but lawmakers did not go along with that request. A board spokeswoman says it’s an issue likely to come up next year.

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