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Health Safety Net Money On Chopping Block

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MIAMI (CBS4) – Dulce Avellanal has been battling breast cancer for a year. She didn’t have insurance when she was diagnosed, but a state safety net helped her get life-saving treatment in the Jackson Health System.

But that safety net may be about to tear apart.

“I don’t know what I would have done,” Dulce said. “All I can think of it is that I probably would have had to sell my house and hope that it would have sold quickly.”

Each year, roughly 177,000 Floridians stand to benefit from the safety net program each year. Currently, there are 15 safety net hospitals in Florida with Jackson Health System being the largest.

The Florida Senate has proposed a controversial budget cut that would cut $215 million from Jackson Health System’s reimbursement for uninsured patients.

But it’s not just patients like Dulce who are concerned; her radiologist is extremely concerned.

Dr. Pat Romilly is worried that when patients get an estimate of how much it’s going to cost for their treatment, they’ll realize they can’t afford it and end up staying home.

Jackson Health is currently running a $300-400 million deficit in public funding. Chief Transition Officer Ted Shaw said an additional cut $215 million will double the difference in terms of unfunded needs.

If the Senate budget cut is approved, hospital officials said they’ll have to cut emergency room staff while will lead to longer lines for patients.

Actual treatments will be cut, as well as follow-ups. In addition, Jackson’s prestigious graduate medical educational programs will also be in danger.

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