Thank you to all COPE members who attended February’s meetings held at Jackson South and Jackson Main during our monthly COPE week. We are still working diligently to schedule meetings for Jackson North. Please check your email for updates for a meeting in March!
The first big item agenda was the inauguration of President Obama’s second term and the policy direction he would be laying out in his State of the Union Address. Many members in attendance said they would be tuning in to listen as the president offered his plan for the next four years. Of course, many members who do see that “things are looking up” also realize that the country has been through some very tough times and that being politics will always political, they were realistic in stating that “we hope we will stay on the right path.”.
With the Florida Legislative session gearing up on March 5, and committee meetings already taking place in Tallahassee, our Political Coordinator Matthew Land has been working to ensure that we know what is going on in Tallahassee. One of the biggest legislative items that is front and center is Medicaid expansion in Florida. One of the legislative priorities of SEIU is working hard to see that Florida expands Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, allowing as many as 1.2 million people to obtain healthcare coverage. This expansion is a sound choice for Florida since the federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost for the first three years, which will gradually be reduced to no less than 90 percent in 2020 and beyond.
The estimated cost to Florida will be approximately $3 billion, but this cost will likely be offset by the savings in uncompensated care. At Jackson, 70 percent of our admissions are admitted through the ER and approximately 14 percent of the $1.6 billion of the care they receive is uncompensated. If those patients could be included under Medicaid expansion, Jackson’s reimbursement rate could be significantly increased. Expanding Medicaid would not only be sound fiscal policy, but also a smart investment in the creation of 65,000 quality healthcare jobs in the first six years of expansion.
On the local level, we discussed one of the most frustrating events in November 2012, the long lines at the ballot box. The task force created by Mayor Carlos Gimenez to review the issues that created another election day debacle will be focusing on several key issues such as reestablishing fourteen early voting days, expanding early voting hours to twelve hours, a 75-word limit for Constitutional Amendments, and allowing voters to update voter registration address on election day across county lines.
Nurse Lobby Day is fast approaching. Our two-day trip to Tallahassee to speak with legislators is critical this year since what happens in Tallahassee this session will affect healthcare workers and our patients. Your participation as a healthcare worker is greatly needed. You will not only gain an abundance of political insight and knowledge, but you will be helping to shape the future of healthcare in Florida which will save the lives of Miami-Dade residents and Floridians across the state. The deadline to register is April 2, 2013. You can call the union office at 305-620-6555 or fill out the form online here. There is no cost for members who contribute a minimum of $3.50 biweekly. You can still join COPE and attend.
Please join us and let your healthcare experience speak.