Letter to the Editor: LIP Fight Jeopardizes Sickest Children
Florida families may have read about a fight over Medicaid expansion in Tallahassee and how it may impact adults. Fewer have heard how the fight is jeopardizing money our state desperately needs to care for some of our sickest children.
18 month old Ana and four year old Connor McCorkle are two of the thousands of children who ended up in the middle of the battle through no fault of their own. The children of a firefighter and a law student were born with a rare disease that affects their nerves and muscles and are treated by our neurologist, one of very few in the country.
Florida’s three freestanding children’s hospitals have teams of specialists who take on the most complex cases. We are proud to partner with families who shoulder the challenge of caring for children with serious conditions. State leaders have realized they have an obligation to help those who arrive in this world with profound struggles and have committed to help cover the cost of care. But that financial support may disappear on July 1.
More than half of the families seeking care at Nemours have insurance through Medicaid. These are hard-working families who are often forced into the Medicaid program because the cost of treating the child frequently exceeds a cap on private insurance.
Medicaid is tough on hospitals. Each interaction with a patient on that insurance brings in far less than we spend on care. It only works because of the Low Income Pool or LIP. The LIP program provides supplemental payments which reduces, but does not eliminate the financial shortfalls of Medicaid.
Because of a fight in Tallahassee the LIP may disappear and if it does, it would lead to drastic cuts. Some very sick children would wait longer to see a specialist. Some may not receive the care they desperately need.
The Florida Senate has put forward a plan that will preserve the LIP and prevent these sorts of cuts. We encourage federal and state leaders to come together to find a solution for the families who rely on their leadership.
Little Ana and Conner and their family face enough challenges battling a rare neuromuscular disorder without adding a political battle to their plate. We hope that leaders in Tallahassee will focus more on their obligations to children who are facing life threatening illnesses and less on political ideology.
David Bailey, MD, MBA, is the President and CEO of the Nemours Foundation.