Legislators Feel the Heat as More 1199SEIU Members Join "Healthcare for Florida Now" Campaign

January 1, 1970

Across Florida, legislators are feeling the pressure to support extending healthcare to more than a million Floridians through Medicaid expansion because frontline caregivers are making calls, holding vigils with faith leaders, testifying in legislative committee hearings, knocking on doors, telling their stories to the press, lobbying and writing letters to newspapers.

The campaign, "Healthcare for Florida Now", was launched in February, just a few weeks prior to the first day of the 2013 Florida legislative session. Medicaid expansion is a key component of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which would pay all costs for Florida to expand their Medicaid rolls by up to a million people for three years, and then a 90-10 federal/state match after that.

Even though Florida ranks among the states with lowest number of residents with healthcare coverage, many Florida legislators oppose accepting the Medicaid expansion plan. 1199SEIU Caregivers have made a point to not let a day go by this legislative session when a lawmaker does not hear about the injustice to more than a million Floridians who are currently uninsured if they choose not to accept the funds.

Jerry Depeine, a father of two who works as a dietary aide at Palm Beach Gardens Health and Rehabilitation Center recently visited Representative Gayle Harrell’s district office to let her know he cannot afford to pay for his employers’ health insurance plan and has never had healthcare coverage. He would benefit from Medicaid if it were expanded.

Jerry believes that being a healthcare worker without healthcare coverage makes him “feel like an outcast. I am more concerned about going to doctor than getting sick. That’s the sad thing about getting sick now.”

“There are times I get sick and I can’t go to the doctor and get proper medication. Not long ago, I had a throat infection and the prescription was too much for me to pay. I couldn’t afford it, so I just walked way. I just had to bear the pain and not go to work.”

Caregivers’ voices are also featured in a series of radio ads in Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee urging legislators to accept the funding to expand Medicaid or give up their taxpayer-funded healthcare coverage.

In addition, 1199SEIU members’ faces are on billboards inside the Tallahassee airport and near the capitol, informing legislators and the public that “Medicaid Expansion will save lives, create jobs, and strengthen Florida’s economy.”

A new ad blitz, consisting of targeted radio, television and online ads ask constituents to call key State House members and tell them to support expanding healthcare to 1.2 hardworking Floridians, or drop their taxpayer subsidized healthcare.

Jennifer Pinell, an Admitting Representative at a hospital in Miami, believes expanding Medicaid will provide peace of mind for families living on the edge because they do not have healthcare coverage. She explained, “Our legislators should be focusing on helping people like me that work hard and still can’t make it. I love my children and want the best for them.”