Graham jumps into fray over medical cuts
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
TALLAHASSEE -- Bob Graham on Tuesday joined the chorus attacking state Republican leaders for cutting the state's Medically Needy program.
"It's a very poor decision, because it affects so many Floridians who don't have the ability to control their lives," the Democratic U.S. senator said between fundraising events for his presidential campaign.
"If you were an elderly person who'd had a liver transplant and if you don't get that very expensive medication, you're going to die. And if the state decides they're not going to assist the person in that circumstance, then those deaths will be on the hands of state officials," Graham said at a news conference. "That's a totally unacceptable attitude and position for the leaders of the state of Florida to take."
State lawmakers last year cut the program, which helps many of Florida's sickest people. Starting May 1, participants must spend all but $450 of their monthly income on drugs to qualify. Gov. Jeb Bush's administration has announced plans for trying to help Medically Needy participants, but Democrats are criticizing Republicans over the program cut.
Graham characterized it as an issue that defines the difference between Democrats and Republicans.
After starting his presidential campaign last week introducing himself to voters and party activists in California and New Hampshire, Graham arrived in Tallahassee Monday with a cold and a hoarse voice for an evening fundraiser. He held a morning news conference touting his candidacy before heading to Panama City and Pensacola to raise more money.
Graham's late-starting presidential campaign moves on to Iowa and South Carolina next week. He tentatively expects to formally kick off his campaign May 6 in Florida.
Despite President Bush's high approval ratings and the quick victory in Iraq, Graham stood by his opposition to the Iraq war, saying it distracted the country from more urgent terrorism threats.
"That war on terror is our No. 1 priority, and as president of the United States I would pursue it to victory," he said. "I think we've lost our focus, and we're going to pay a price for it. "
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From the Times state desk
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