Physicians with Doctors for America joined by Floridians in the coverage gap, today, called on Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to expand access to care by highlighting the devastating consequences of Florida’s failure to act, as outlined in a new report by The Council of Economic Advisers.
The report, Missed Opportunities: The Consequences of State Decisions Not to Expand Medicaid, confirms the failure to expand Medicaid in Florida has real consequences on patients, families, hospitals and the state’s economy.
“If Florida continues to refuse to expand access to healthcare, it will miss out on approximately 63,800 jobs and nearly one million hardworking Floridians will be deprived of health coverage purely for political reasons,” said Doctors for America Executive Director Dr. Alice Chen. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Democratic and Republican governors across the country are moving to expand Medicaid because they recognize coverage saves lives and it’s also good business for the state.”
“The nearly one million Floridians in the coverage gap are more than just a number,” said Dr. Mona Mangat, Chair of Doctors for America and an Allergist-Immunologist based in St. Petersburg. “These people are our patients, neighbors and friends. They work hard and care for their families. And they deserve state leaders who work hard for them. It’s time for Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to do the right thing and put people over politics.”
In addition to calls from physicians to expand Medicaid, Floridians in the coverage gap joined the call to discuss their healthcare coverage struggles and underscore the cost of inaction on their daily lives.
Susan Burns, a 55 year old small business owner from central Florida, said she hasn’t head health insurance for 10 years. “I take care of myself the best I can but I haven’t been able to get a well woman visit in nine years, which is crucial for a woman my age. When I get sick I have to rely on free clinics, but the need is so great in Florida that I often have to travel and patch together care. All of that takes time away from my work and generating new business. It’s very stressful and scary.”
Chad Riese, a student at the University of South Florida, who was diagnosed with epilepsy after amassing $100,000 in medical debt said he struggles to afford the medicine he needs and is constantly fielding calls from collection agencies. “I’m trying to finish my degree, taking 15 credit hours this semester. About the best I can do with that class load is to freelance on the weekends for a promotion company. My goal right now is to not give up on a future that only a college education can provide. While I haven’t given up on my future, it feels like Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature have given up on me.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, states had the opportunity to expand Medicaid coverage to give citizens in their states access to affordable health care, and in return receive 100 percent of federal funding to cover those costs for the first three years and no less than 90 percent federal support in the years ahead.
Governor Rick Scott and Florida Legislature have so far refused to expand access to care for Floridians in the coverage gap, making Florida among the minority of states refusing to accept Medicaid funding.