State Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, criticized the Florida Legislature today for its “hypocrisy” in accepting funds from the Affordable Care Act for Title V abstinence-only education grants, while at the same time rejecting millions that were allocated to child abuse and neglect prevention programs.

Rich’s statement says:

“The governor and legislative leaders turned down more than $50 million that will help Floridians because the funds were authorized by the federal health care reform act they so vehemently oppose,” Senator Rich said. “But when federal money from the very same source is going to a program that advances their extreme agenda, they’re happy to take it. They’re putting right wing orthodoxy above the safety of Florida’s at-risk children and vulnerable senior citizens, and it is hypocritical and disingenuous.”

The rejected funds would have gone toward such programs as teen pregnancy and child abuse prevention, hospice and community health centers and transitioning the elderly from nursing homes into home and community-based care – all of them not only highly effective, but proven to be cost-saving as well.

“The reasoning for shunning the money is dubious at best,” Senator Rich said. “Legislative leadership is willing to overlook their opposition to federal health care reform, and take federal funding in one case because of a ‘long-standing commitment’ by the state to abstinence-only programs – even though studies show these programs aren’t effective. But when we have an evidence-based program like the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) that has been proven effective in decreasing teen pregnancy, they put politics ahead of good policy.”

A well known advocate for children and seniors, Senator Rich urged the Republicans to rethink their strategy for opposing the President and the health care reform measure before any Floridian is exposed to needless suffering due to a program’s lack of funding.

“With all of the dramatic cuts to critical services the Republicans have leveled on Florida because of their blind obedience to a failed economic policy, severing the few remaining lifelines so many young and elderly depend on is not only cruel, it’s unjustifiable. It’s time they put the good of the people over pandering to their tea party supporters.”

The GOP-led Legislature has stated that the funds from the Affordable Care Act were struck down because the state is currently in litigation with the federal government over the constitutionality of the law.

Katie Betta — communications director for Speaker of the House Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park — told The Florida Independent that the $2.5 million in Title V money is different from other funds available through the Affordable Care Act. ”These grants represent a continuation of existing funding for programs we have committed to and been engaged in for years,” Betta explained.

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