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March On Tampa

By Dr. Sujatha Prabhakaran
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Thursday August 30th was spent in downtown Tampa close to the RNC.   During most of the day, DFAers were stationed in Lykes Gaslight Park in  Tampa close to the St. Pete Times Forum.  

 

The day had a rocky but somewhat fortuitous start when a van side swiped the Patients Over Politics RV, knocking off the left hand mirror.  While this was not exactly how we hoped to start the day, there was an unexpected benefit.   An RV without a mirror is not driveable, and since the RV was stuck right next to the park it served as a great backdrop to our activities for the day!  

 

In the park, we set up five Lucy Booths, staffed by doctors and patients.  Despite the swampiness (Florida in August),  DFAers were able to talk with lots of folks including city workers, patients and convention attendees.   We answered many questions, heard stories and got lots of declarations signed.  

 

Some stories that stand out:  

 

Ann Martin spoke with a gentleman who moved to Florida from New Mexico.  When he moved, he found that the care he needed for his chronic medical condition was not covered by Florida Medicaid.    The gentleman might have to move back to New Mexico in order to assure he gets the care he needs for his condition.  

 

A contractor working on the convention shared with Kenya Wheeler that because she is an independant contractor she doesn't have insurance through her employer, so can't afford coverage.   She was very excited to hear about ACA benefits that would help folks like her.  

 

At 3 pm we marched on Tampa.  Well, actually, we marched to the Speakers platform.  We had much attention from law enforcement, including at one point being surrounded by police on all four sides including police on horseback, foot and in Jeeps!  

 

On speakers platform, our physicians and patients spoke about why they are are on Patients Over Politics (POP) Tour and why the ACA is so important to Americans.  So many compelling stories were told.  Over 20 media outlets covered the event including: the Tampa Bay Times,  CNBC, NBC news, ABC radio, Creative loafing, even international coverage from a French radio station. 

 

Finally, we marched back to the park and then headed to a well appreciated Italian dinner in the now repaired POP RV.  All in all, a successful and exciting day! 

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