According to the Orlando Sentinel
(reported Jan. 3
(requires free registration; AP picked the story up today -- see, e.g.
, NY Times/AP story
Amid an outcry from patients and pharmacists, the state of Florida on Friday abruptly pulled the plug on a new system that forces private pharmacists to decide whether to make poor and medically needy patients pay a fee for prescriptions that have been free.
Health advocates and state lawmakers blasted the system, started just two days ago, which they said is illegal and could force thousands of poverty-stricken people to pay fees they can't afford -- or, at worst, deny lifesaving drugs to critically ill patients.
"We've made pharmacists the gatekeepers," said state Rep. Anne Gannon, D-Delray Beach. "They're deciding whether people live or die."
Don't look now, but the same thing is happening in Dallas County's own Parkland Memorial Hospital, where patients who are too poor to afford prescription meds and too "rich" to qualify for Parkland's health plan are being sent home from the ER and from surgery without the drugs they need to stay alive. As the Dallas Morning News editorialized
on Saturday, the County Commissioners have a couple of big votes lined up this week, one of them on Parkland's plan to add to its current main hospital/8 clinics. (The other vote concerns a successor to health commissioner Betty Culbreath. What the editorial didn't mention is that Dallas County is currently experiencing a public-health meltdown. We lead the state in any number of infectious diseases and we lack the infrastructure to have a clue -- let alone a plan -- about an outbreak of salmonella that affected more than 650 people in all 50 states until we were warned by the CDC that something fishy was going on in the Anatole's salsa kitchen (story
).) Meanwhile, it seems like business as usual on the Commissioner's Court, where public health -- not to mention life-and-death policies affecting Parkland patients -- seems to be a low priority at best. Shame on the Court and (so far) on County Judge Margaret Keliher, whose campaign touted that electing her would be good for Parkland. We're watching . . . .