Statement from 1199SEIU’s Roxey Nelson on the need for Medicaid expansion in Florida.

July 6, 2020

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Media contact:
Ed Gilhuly | 305-807-6906 | egilhuly@leftcom.com

“Expanding Medicaid coverage in Florida under the Affordable Care Act has always made sense, but today as millions of state residents lose their jobs and their health insurance in the middle of a deadly pandemic, it never has been more critical.

“Even before the Covid-19 crisis, Medicaid expansion would have used federal funds to provide health coverage for 800,000 working, low-income, Floridians. That number is rising each day as workers are furloughed, laid off and let go in our service- and tourism-driven economy, and to fend for themselves with our state’s broken unemployment insurance system.

“Because GOP ideologues in Tallahassee blindly and illogically resist expanding this program solely due to its connection with “Obamacare,” Floridians have been sending their federal tax dollars to pay for Medicaid services in almost 40 states for several years, but not to help our own families, friends and neighbors here at home. Of course, this same demented fixation has the Trump administration still trying frantically to kill the ACA altogether, which would strip health insurance for millions of Americans and Floridians fortunate enough to have coverage during this historic health crisis.

“Even in the most conservative states, voters and lawmakers are conceding that Medicaid expansion is a good idea, especially when we all are facing such an unprecedented heath crisis. Just last week, ruby red Oklahoma voters passed a special ballot initiative to expand Medicaid.”

“We know Florida voters would overwhelmingly choose to expand Medicaid to cover those in need and to put their own federal tax dollars to work here at home. However, the same group of the most intransigent Tallahassee ideologues have worked hard to keep this issue off the ballot. If Gov. Ron DeSantis truly wants to listen and serve Floridians facing historic health challenges during Covid-19, he could call a special session of the legislature to vote on the issue. At a minimum, our democracy calls for the question to be answered by voters.

“If the facts and logic of Medicaid expansion make sense to Oklahomans and the vast majority of states, it clearly is the right choice for Florida.”

Roxey Nelson is a vice president and director of politics & strategic campaigns for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the union that represents more than 25,000 nurses and healthcare workers throughout Florida.