Wire: Fed, State Dispute Halts US Military Airlifts from Haiti
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2010 -- Newswire services this morning reported that the U.S. military has halted flights carrying Haitian earthquake victims to the United States, apparently in a dispute between federal and state governments over medical care costs.
The Associated Press reported that the evacuations were suspended Wednesday, according to Capt. Kevin Aandahl, spokesman for U.S. Transportation Command. The flights were halted a day after Florida Gov. Charlie Crist asked the federal government to help pay for care.
"There were some critical cases that were recommended stateside facility care or follow-up care," Aandahl said Saturday. "As I understand it, there were some states that were unwilling to approve transportation for that follow-up. We can't fly anyone without an accepting hospital on the other end."The story was first reported by the New York Times.
AP said Aandahl declined to specify which states declined to accept those patients, and he referred further questions to a Pentagon press office, where an after-hours answering service could not accept incoming messages Saturday.
Florida officials said Saturday that they were not aware of any hospital in Florida refusing to take in the patients. However, in a letter Tuesday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the governor said "Florida's health care system is quickly reaching saturation, especially in the area of high level trauma care."The link below for details.
Crist asked Sebelius to activate the National Disaster Medical System, which is typically used in domestic disasters and pays for victims' care. His letter does not indicate how much victims' care was costing Florida, though he noted the state's health care system was already stretched by the winter tourism season and annual "snowbird" migration.
In a statement Saturday, Crist said Florida has not stopped helping earthquake victims, noting at least 60 Haitian orphans arrived Friday night at Miami International Airport.
(Report from newswire sources.)
Source: US military airlifts of Haiti quake victims halted