Healthy Start program facing possible ‘severe' cuts

A state program that offers services for thousands of at-risk pregnant women and infants is facing drastic cuts.

In a budget proposal, Florida senators are slashing the Healthy Start program by $19 million, or close to 30 percent.

This is money used for risk screenings, breastfeeding and nutrition classes, and emotional support many expecting moms wouldn’t otherwise have.

Every hospital in Florida is required to offer risk screenings to pregnant women, due to Healthy Start.

Paula Sanchez told Action News Jax the program guided her through her pregnancy, even as there were complications during her third trimester.

“I started having the high blood pressure, and so that was a really high-risk factor for me,” she said.

Sanchez delivered her newborn son nearly two weeks early. She says having help from Healthy Start was crucial during her pregnancy.

“I didn’t feel lost, I felt guided,” she said

The Florida House and Senate couldn’t come to an agreement on the proposed cuts last week.

Leaders in both houses are expected to discuss it further, but as legislative session is nearly over, Healthy Start leaders hope the program isn’t left out.

Action News Jax made calls to both sides this afternoon, as well as to the office of Sen. Rob Bradley. Our calls have not yet been returned.

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