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Public Keeps Pushing for Expansion

A campaign - that some would call a doomed campaign - to expand Medicaid for Florida's uninsured poor continued in Tallahassee on Thursday with a mass lobby conducted by doctors and nurses from Miami's Jackson Hospital. They went from office to office in the state capitol seeking legislative support…but got basically nowhere.

Along with the 100 or so doctors and nurses who took the trip, were consumers such as Orlando resident Kathleen Voss Woolrich, who spent some of the time on her computer.  She was trying to crowd source funding for the funeral of her best friend who had just died of a heart attack because she couldn’t afford her medication.

For her death, Woolrich blames the Florida Legislature.

“I feel like it's basically manslaughter. Cause I don't think they think of us as human beings. I don't think they're thinking it through,” she said. “Because if they saw it in person and witnessed it, they would maybe (think) differently.”

Expanding Medicaid would bring $51 billon in federal money to the state to open Medicaid to the 1 million state residents too poor to afford Obamacare policies, but not poor enough to qualify for regular Medicaid.  

For the first three years, the law says federal money would cover all the costs. After that, the state would have to assume 10 percent of that cost. But many Republicans fear it would be much more than that.

But Jackson critical care nurse Denise Glass says the economics from her own patients are already terrible.

“If we could have given them $200 worth of medication, if we could have given them a $55 office visit say twice a year, we could have prevented a $500,000 open-heart surgery.

The Jackson medical professionals went from office to office, button-holing as many House members as they could. Nurse Shereese Martineau says the Republican visits made it a discouraging afternoon.

“Nobody's taking the time to listen to anything. They're all set in their ways,” she said. “They're set in how they're thinking. And they're not ready to be open to listen or hear any other ideas. So it's very disappointing.”

A Republican Senator from Miami, Rene Garcia, has filed a bill to expand Medicaid. It's unlikely to get a hearing in this busy session because no one thinks the House would approve it.