Tallahassee pediatric cardiologist Louis B. St. Petery received the 2018 Medal of Honor Award in the non-lawyer category at the Foundation’s 42nd annual reception and dinner June 14. St. Petery’s leadership and legislative advocacy on behalf of children on Medicaid have led to funding increases and substantial changes to the system.
When St. Petery sued on behalf of children on Medicaid who weren’t receiving the medical or dental care to which they were entitled, he attended more than 40 depositions and almost every day of the 90-day bench trial. Because of his attendance and analysis, he solved the mystery of why so many children were switched from one provider to another, oftentimes having their coverage terminated. The state agencies involved denied children were switched until the litigation showed it was caused by miscommunication between computer systems.
In the end, a settlement was reached that resulted in millions of additional dollars in funding and a multi-year process that would transform the program from one of the worst in the nation to one performing at national norms.
“He has probably done more to help improve medical care for children on Medicaid in Florida over the last decade than anyone else,” said Ft. Lauderdale attorney Carl Goldfarb, who nominated St. Petery. Goldfarb served as counsel for the Florida Chapter of the American Pediatrics Society, of which St. Petery was executive vice president for more than 10 years.
In another case, St. Petery recruited counsel to block the Department of Health from using a new screening tool that knocked 13,000 children with special health care needs out of Florida’s Children’s Medical Services. He served as the plaintiff’s pro bono expert witness, and the state was forced to cease using the screening tool. He then testified at the rulemaking workshops, which resulted in an improved CMS screening tool.
For more than 25 years, St. Petery served as executive director of the Tallahassee Pediatric Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by the Florida Legislature in 1984 to coordinate the activities of the pediatricians in Tallahassee treating children on Medicaid and the State Child Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).
He was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the Florida Healthy Kids Board, a nonprofit corporation created by the Florida Legislature to oversee SCHIP. St. Petery also served on the CMS Network Advisory Council and on the Legislative Council of the Florida Medical Association.
The Medal of Honor Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the improvement of the administration of justice, is given in two categories: lawyer and nonlawyer. The award recognizes truly remarkable individuals who have helped improve the justice system and who embody The Florida Bar’s ideals of duty and service.