|Published:||Apr 06, 2010 9:24 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Apr 06, 2010 9:24 PM EDT|
LEE COUNTY, Fla. - A program designed to save the lives of babies may end because the state said it doesn't have enough money to fund it.
Right now, Healthy Start operates with a 4-million dollar budget statewide.
Since Healthy Start began 18 years ago, the number of infant deaths has dropped.
Without funding, 17,000 families in Southwest Florida may not get the attention they need... and taxpayers may pay more to help them.
Kristin Correia was diagnosed with epilepsy before getting pregnant with her son Nicholas. Because of her medication, it was a high-risk pregnancy, so her doctor referred her to Healthy Start.
"They gave me information and updates, called on a regular basis to talk to me about how things were going with the pregnancy and how the baby was developing."
That help didn't stop after Nicholas was born. Correia lost her job and her insurance. Healthy Start helped her pay her mortgage and get her medications. She said she doesn't know what she would have done without the program.
"It would've been a lot more nerve-racking. There's somebody always there available to you to answer your questions."
The House wants to cut the funding to save about 4-million dollars. The Senate disagrees, saying if Healthy Start ends, taxpayers could pay more to help new mothers who aren't insured.
The Executive Director of Healthy Start Southwest Florida said they only rely on 5 percent of taxpayer dollars. The County Health Department uses 17 percent and may not provide all the services Healthy Start does.
"I really think it would be a mistake to cut the program. It helps so many people in so many different situations."
Right now, the Senate and House are in negotiations and will have to decide if Healthy Start will stay or go by the end of the month.