Local 1991 Members Get Political

Dr. Dave Woolsey discusses the impact of Medicaid expansion on Jackson with state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez.
Dr. Dave Woolsey discusses the impact of Medicaid expansion on Jackson with state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez.

Florida senators and representatives spent the last week of February in their home districts meeting with residents in preparation for the 2013 legislative session.

Local 1991 members took advantage of the opportunity to meet with their legislators about priority issues such as Medicaid expansion and reimbursement rates for teaching hospitals, misguided attempts to reform Florida’s healthy pension system, and the need for election reform.

Below are a few of the member highlights from the week:

Denise Glass, R.N., SICU, went with political coordinator Matthew Land to meet with staff of her Senator, Anitere Flores, to discuss legislative priorities of Local 1991. Flores is Vice Chair of Healthcare Appropriations and a member of the Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act as well as health policy.

Glass and Land also met with the staff of Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, Chairman of the Miami-Dade Delegation and a member of the Health Quality Subcommittee.

Joyce Kerkhoff, R.N., ER Dr. Dave Woolsey and others participated in a lively constituent roundtable discussion with Jackson Champion, Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez. Local 1991 members spent countless hours volunteering for Rodriguez throughout the election cycle and helped ensure a victory in a tough district. All of the 1991 participants in the discussion are constituents of Rodriguez who is a member of the Select Committee on the Affordable Care Act and he spoke to more than 40 people about issues that he is working on in Tallahassee as well as major issues such as the need to extend Medicaid benefits.

Retired Nurse and Representative Organizer Doris Rahming and Land met with Rep. Kionne McGhee to discuss Jackson funding and the need to extend Medicaid benefits. Doris spoke to McGhee, who sits on the Health Innovation Subcommittee, and his staff about how if Medicaid benefits are extended to newly income eligibles, Jackson will be able to reduce uncompensated care costs, focus on primary care as opposed to emergency care for patients, and be able to continue to thrive. We were encouraged that McGhee is committed to fighting for Medicaid expansion and invited Doris to speak to his constituents about Jackson and Medicaid expansion in the future.

A number of members turned out for the WLRN/Miami Herald Legislative Forum (listen to it here) at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, which featured Sen. Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale and Senate minority leader) and Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater and chair of the Ethics and Elections Committee) answering questions about the important issues that will be debated during this session.

Local 1991 political coordinator Matthew Land also participated in a panel on Medicaid expansion at Rep. Sharon Pritchett’s Townhall meeting.  Pritchett is a member of the Health Innovation Subcommittee and a true advocate for ensuring Jackson’s prosperity and working families’ rights. The panel discussion focused on the need to extend Medicaid benefits and Land spoke to a crowd of more than 75 people on how important this is for Jackson’s survival in regards to the  uncompensated care Jackson gives coupled with the uninsured rates in Miami-Dade County and the patients Jackson sees each year.

We encourage all our members to get active in issues that directly affect them. Meet with, call or write your elected officials.

One simple thing you can do right now is to put pressure on House Speaker Will Weatherford, who is currently the main barrier to the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid expansion in Florida. Both Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Don Gaetz have accepted that it should happen. But opening hearts and minds in the House is absolutely critical.

Call the House Speaker and your Florida House Representative today and tell them to implement Medicaid expansion.

Accepting the Medicaid dollars is the right thing to do, and a great deal for Florida. But it’s up to us to make sure Medicaid expansion becomes a reality. It would mean coverage for 1.2 million Florida residents.

Speaker Will Weatherford:  1-850-717-5038

Call your legislator through the Florida Consumers Union hotline. First, look up your HOUSE member’s district here.

Then call 866-823-6556 to be patched through.