Union Members Testify About Medicaid Expansion

On Feb. 11, SEIU Local 1991 president Martha Baker, RN, and board member Maggie Pena, a social worker, traveled to Tallahassee to testify about the necessity of Medicaid expansion to Jackson Health System.

The testimony took place in front of the Senate Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Click here to watch the meeting. (Our folks come on at minute 105)

The committee has been examining in-depth various issues surrounding how ACA could be implemented in Florida, including insurance regulations, implantation of the insurance exchanges, expanding Medicaid coverage to people earning up to 138% of Federal Poverty Level and many other issues. The committee should be producing recommendations for legislation during the first week of March.

Baker and Pena were able to testify from a unique perspective, as healthcare providers at the largest public hospital in Florida. They urged the committee to accept the federal funds that have been allocated to Florida and to extend Medicaid benefits.

“Jackson spends hundreds of millions each year in uncompensated care,” said Baker. “We’re financially challenged each day to stay open and stay alive for our community and even our country.”

By fully implementing Medicaid expansion, Florida has a chance to shift its healthcare mindset to prevention instead of sickness care, Baker added.

“Not only is this the most humane, but also the most cost effective way to deliver healthcare,” she said. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Considering the cost to the state will never be more than ten cents on the dollar (the federal government picks up the full cost for the first three years), Florida stands to lose billions if it doesn’t take full advantage of ACA.

Medicaid expansion is expected to cover an additional 1.2 million Floridians who are currently uninsured, including up to 225,000 Miami-Dade residents. Expansion will drive down uncompensated care costs at Jackson and provide an opportunity for patients to access affordable primary care as opposed to using our ERs as a source of primary care.

Expansion is also estimated to produce more than 65,000 healthcare jobs over the next six years.

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