Critically ill baby falls through cracks of Medicaid system

Mother feared for her baby's life

A 1-year-old critically ill Tampa girl was kept alive by her determined mother for nine days after her family fell through a crack in Florida's Medicaid system . When an overwhelmed Lisa Ferlita had no where else to turn, she contacted our Taking Action Reporter Jackie Callaway to help her struggling family.

There's the portable oxygen tanks--the battery pack that powers Lucy's ventilator and machines that measure vitals, along with an emergency oxygen kit.

Former dance instructor Lisa Ferlita has no medical training, yet earlier this month she became her 1-year-old daughter's solo medical support for 9 days.

This mother claims the state dropped Lucy's Medicaid with out warning. An August 1 letter from the Agency for Healthcare Administration states "DCF will send you a letter with in 30 days explaining any action they may take about your child's ongoing eligibility." But Ferlita claims she received no final letter.

Overnight, the nurses went away, replaced by calls for payment for Lucy's life support equipment.  A primal fear powered her mother through the following days and nights. She knows the soul scorching pain that comes with the loss of a child.

In 2011 Lisa and her husband lost their six month old son Vincent to the same mysterious undiagnosed muscle disorder that now affects  Lucy.

But fear for her baby's life could not keep Lisa going around the clock. She was on the verge of collapse when she made a call for action.

We asked DCF to review the Ferlita's case and the fact the letter they should have gotten never arrived the next morning their phone rang.

DCF offered to extend the family's Medicaid thru October. The nurses returned and the Ferlita's no longer fear for the loss of life saving machines.

DCF does not deny that the Ferlitas were given no final determination notice. In a statement a DCF spokesperson explained, "...The decision was made to extend the child's Medicaid for one month to ensure she did not have a lapse in coverage."

Turns out, the family made too much money to permanently qualify for Medicaid and their private insurance is maxed out. Now DCF says they will likely qualify for another Florida Kid Care program called Children's Medical Services.

If someone finds themselves in similar dire medical straights, there is help for children with special needs who don't qualify for Medicaid. Here is the best source of information: www.floridahealth.gov/alternatesites/cms-kids/index.html .

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