Louis B. St. Petery, MD, a pediatric cardiologist with Tallahassee Primary Care Associates, will receive the 2018 Medal of Honor Award in the non-lawyer category. His 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.
“He is the leading statewide health care advocate for Florida children. His advocacy has been herculean. Over 1.9 million Florida children on Medicaid have directly benefited from his advocacy and tenacity,” said Professor Paolo Annino, who led the litigation and is co-director of Florida State University College of Law’s Public Interest Law Center.
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 Awards, sponsored by Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, will be presented at The Florida Bar Foundation’s 42nd Annual Reception and Dinner June 14 at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek during The Florida Bar Annual Convention. Other major sponsors include Susan & Stanley M. Rosenblatt, Carlton Fields, Shutts & Bowen LLP, Akerman LLP, and Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA.