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Budget ‘Turkeys’ include many health projects

Some of the priciest projects listed in the Florida TaxWatch “Turkey Watch Report,” which labeled $203 million worth of budget items as superfluous, are related to health and social services.

An example: National Veterans Homeless Support Group based in Brevard County, $12 million added during budget conference. It was not requested by a state agency.

Another: Mount Sinai Medical Center, $5 million added in conference.

If the Legislature had refrained from its earmarks and other non-kosher horsetrades, theTaxWatch reportsays, it could have eliminated most of the 6.5 percent Medicaid reimbursement cuts to nursing homes that total $163 million.

“Turkey” is the label historically attached to lawmakers’ projects that benefit their home counties rather than the statewide interest or were placed in the budget during conference, without proper review.

The label doesn’t mean a project isn’t worthy, the group’s report says, but refers to the way in which it made its way into the budget.

Here is the list.

Carol Gentry, founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, has four decades of experience covering health finance and policy, with an emphasis on consumer education and protection.