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Health care workers rally to expand Medicaid coverage

by John Kennedy | March 7th, 2013

About 400 health care workers crowded the Florida Capitol on Thursday, singing, chanting — with even a few in costume — to urge legislative leaders to endorse the Medicaid expansion allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Margie Forrest, a 35-year nurse who works at Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, was among those who addressed the gathering, pointing out that many of the  certified nurse assistants, aides and food service workers who came to the Capitol are uninsured themselves.

The group’s rally pivoted around a Wizard of Oz theme, with three attendees dressed as the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion. Forrest used that imagery in calling on House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, to drop his opposition to expansion.

“Speaker Weatherford, find your brain. Pass the legislation needed,” Forrest said.

The rally was organized by the Service Employees International Union, a potent contributor to Democrats both in Florida and on the national level. On Medicaid expansion, however, SEIU’s biggest ally in Florida at the moment is Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has endorsed the initiative as a ”common sense” thing to do.

If lawmakers endorse expanding Medicaid to 138 percent of the poverty level, another 1 million Floridians are expected to become eligible for health coverage. Many would be lower-income workers in service and tourism industry jobs, said Monica Russo, president of SEIU Healthcare Florida.

Under the expansion,  individuals earning roughly $15,000 would qualify for Medicaid coverage. A family of three earning $26,300 would be eligible.

“These are workers…who provide care but cannot afford insurance on their own,” Russo said.

None of Florida’s Republican leaders came out to meet with workers at Thursday’s rally.

But earlier in the day, Scott told reporters that he wasn’t worried about the House’s stance. He also didn’t indicate that he planned to press hard for passage of the legislation, maintaining that a $2,500 teacher pay raise and a tax break for manufacturers amounted to his only session priorities.

“I let everybody know my position with regard to Medicaid expansion. My position I think it is the right position for
Florida families,” Scott said.  “Now the legislative process is just starting.  Hopefully they’ll do the right thing.”

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9 Responses to “Health care workers rally to expand Medicaid coverage”

  1. John A. Smith Says:

    Why are they insulting? If they want it so bad, they should pay for it. Not all of us.

  2. sup Says:

    Scott is a fool but can’t fool the SEIU with the switcharoo he did.

  3. Robert Briere Says:

    Hospital workers who are union members fighting for medicare expansion. Wonder if these are the same “thugs” repubtallygirl refers to? Wonder if she refuses to use hospitals populated by union members? Like to see her call them “thugs” to their faces. What an idiot!

  4. 2014 Says:

    Fire Rick Scott the worthless fascist.


  5. Kate Says:

    I simply don’t understand this whole “Affordable Care Act”…first they said if you don’t have health insurance, they will force you to buy it or IRS taxes you…now they want Medicaid expanded..I guess I am out of the whole socialistic loop. Didn’t the congress tell us not too long ago that social security(and Medicare) would go bust after a few short years in the future? Now it’s ok, because the O poured zillions into it? OMG, completely insane.

  6. Kevin Says:

    Kate, it’s really not that difficult to understand if you open your mind and switch the channel from Fox News to some other more balanced news outlets including the internet. Just because they say their fair and balanced doesn’t make it so. Hospital workers know that the spiraling cost of providing medical care to the un-insured is not sustainable. They know that the people who are insured are paying for those who are not. The so called charity care provided by hospitals is actually passed on to those of us with insurance in the form of cost increases paid for by higher premiums and reduced benefits requiring higher co-pays and deductibles. Raising Medicaid income qualification to 138% of the poverty level will provide coverage for the working poor trying to do the right thing by becoming part of the workforce and eventually a middle class citizen. A $10K unpaid medical bill can ruin your credit rating which destroys your chances of getting a good well paying job regardless of your qualifications. Furthermore it’s only the republicans in congress spouting the Medicare will go broke cliché and its only true according to the GAO based on the healthcare’s cost increase trend and decreasing revenue stream created by republican tax cuts. This country would be a lot better off if more people would actually take the time to read and understand the facts and make informed decisions at the voting booth. Both political parties at their extreme ends are a crazy lunatic fringe crowd bent on achieving their own utopian vision at any cost. In their world people who compromise with the other side for the good of the country are considered traitors called out by the likes of Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh and Keith Oberman. Please educate yourself and change the channel.

  7. Searcher1 Says:

    Yes, Kate, you are completely INSANE. In a related article, the state is lowering spending on mental health issues, which means you will have a hard time getting your meds…..

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