The Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (FAFCC) released the following statement today in response to Governor Rick Scott’s veto of a $9.5 million appropriation for the free and charitable clinics:
“For decades the free and charitable clinics and We Care specialty care networks in our state have labored to provide healthcare to their neighbors in need – the working poor, the uninsured, those who cannot afford to pay for their medical care or get a plan through the Affordable Care Act, the newly unemployed who have lost their health benefits, and the list goes on. These not-for-profit, community-based and faith-based organizations have benefitted from great community support. Thousands of volunteer doctors and nurses donate their time and talents. Hospitals provide substantial amounts of in-kind lab testing, diagnostic procedures, and more. Drug companies donate millions of dollars of free medicines. Local donors and funders contribute generously. What is there not to like? It is no accident, in light of the magnitude of the need as well as the incredible local response to the need, that Florida has the most free and charitable clinics in the country. They receive no federal funding, and now, regrettably, no state funding either.
Historically Republicans and Democrats alike in statehouses across the country have stood solidly behind our sector. Here in Florida our Republican-controlled Legislature has been steadfast in their support. This was on display again last week when Senate and House leaders came together to recommend more than doubling the appropriation for this worthwhile cause, echoing a similar action taken by the Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly earlier this year. Building on last year’s successful use of a $4.5 million appropriation, our Association would have used the $9.5 million to make grants enabling clinics and We Cares to expand their capacity and serve an additional 25,000 Floridians in desperate need of healthcare.
However, yesterday’s decision de-funded the free and charitable clinics. We never imagined it could happen. We are in shock. We feel terrible for our 87 member clinics and We Cares, for their legions of volunteer doctors and nurses and countless other health professionals, for their loyal community partners, and most of all, for their patients – the ones they serve now, and the ones who will not be served because of this decision. We applaud our member clinics and We Cares for continuing to stand tall, for working hard every day to carry out their noble missions, and for not being deterred from their duty by the fallout from this disappointing turn of events.
We want to thank the Senate and the House, as well as many others, who have come to our defense and offered their support. Florida has a proud tradition of free and charitable clinics serving our state’s most vulnerable residents. We endeavor to keep that tradition alive and well in the months and years ahead.”
Based in St. Petersburg, FAFCC is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization whose mission is to represent and support not-for-profit clinics and specialty care networks that provide quality, cost-effective healthcare services at little or no charge to low-income, uninsured and underserved Floridians. FAFCC currently has 87 member clinics and networks offering medical, dental, and behavioral health services at 99 locations to nearly 125,000 Floridians in need. For more information about FAFCC, visit www.fafcc.org.