Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Vigils Honor Florida's Uninsured and Deliver Urgent Messages to Legislators

Credit to The Florida Medical Campaign
As scores of nurses and healthcare workers made their voices heard this week through lobby visits and press conferences in the Capitol, groups of Floridians held four vigils in four cities across the state to draw attention to the healthcare crisis in our state.
“I don’t have the basic human right of health coverage, so when I got sick last year, I ignored the symptoms until I passed out in class,” explained Daniela Gonzalez, a senior at University of Central Florida who became uninsured when her mom lost her job at Disney. “I woke up in the hospital and now I owe $22,000 in medical bills. My mom is a cancer survivor and she owes the hospital $70,000 for her treatments. I go to school full time and work two jobs to help pay our medical bills,” explained Gonzalez.

Today, you can call Tallahassee and ask that they expand healthcare to one million more Floridians. Call (866) 443-1844 and ask your representative to support Medicaid Expansion.

Across the state, Floridians shed light on the overwhelming uninsured crisis in our state as groups of people in Boca Raton, Wesley Chapel, St. Cloud and Miami held candles near Florida House of Representatives’ in-district offices and told personal stories of near misses from catastrophic injuries and being denied care because they are uninsured and remembered loved ones who lost health battles because they could not get adequate treatment.
Alex Rodriguez, a food and nutrition assistant at a hospital in St. Petersburg shared his personal story about living without healthcare while at the same time dedicating his life to caring for others. Rodriquez cannot afford healthcare for himself and also cares for his sister who has been on kidney dialysis for the last thirteen years but cannot afford the expensive prescriptions she needs.

“Expand and accept those dollars for the state of Florida, for hardworking families like myself and many others here in Florida because I am also a diabetic without medical insurance working a part time job,” Rodriquez said.

The vigils honored the living by delivering messages to legislators through phone calls and emails at the events and offering prayers to the legislators to have the wisdom, courage and heart to expand Medicaid for 1.2 million hard working Floridians who would qualify if the legislature accepts the federal dollars earmarked for Florida.
Verna Pearson, a licensed practical nurse at a nursing home in Tampa and 1199SEIU member who is a constituent of Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford,  called on the Speaker to the do the right thing by passing Medicaid expansion.

“I’m here to urge the speaker to accept the federal funds to expand Medicaid that will help one million hardworking families,” said Pearson. “We have a healthcare crisis here in Florida with four million Floridians being uninsured, but there’s a cure. Medicaid expansion will save lives, create jobs and boost our economy. It will help a lot of our poor, working class, some of who are my co-workers who are being forced to make hard choices when it comes to medical coverage. They simply can’t afford it.”

“Accept the federal funds,” Pearson added, while standing next to a fellow 1199SEIU member holding a giant, oversized check in the amount of $51 billion made out to the other forty-nine states from Speaker Weatherford. “These are our tax dollars. Don’t let our state send this money to other states and cash this check that we need. We need to invest the money in Florida.”

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