April 15-16 a large contingent of Local 1991 members flew to Tallahassee to fight for our patients and our hospital as gridlock in the capital reached its peak. As the House and Senate squared off over Medicaid expansion, the fate of the state budget hung in the balance.
Local 1991 members were literally in the middle of it, drawing attention to the lack of action of our legislators to expand health care to hundreds of thousands, save lives and protect our safety-net hospitals.
Our healthcare professionals held a press conference to demand that House leaders take action (instead of insulting health advocates as “Gucci-wearing” lobbyists) and that Gov. Rick Scott stop flip-flopping on Medicaid and help Florida residents.
“All the polls show most Floridians want this,” said President Martha Baker, RN. “Healthcare advocates want this. Businesses want this. The federal government is standing there trying to give Florida billions of dollars to get it done. But here we are on day 45 of the session and the House leadership won’t even discuss Medicaid expansion. Our Governor, Flip-Flop Rick, can’t seem to make up his mind.”
At the same moment of our press conference, Scott announced his intention to sue the federal government over LIP funding — which goes directly to hospitals that serve uninsured patients. There would not be a problem at all if Medicaid was expanded because that expansion was intended to replace LIP funds that are being retired across the country. By refusing to expand healthcare, the governor and House leaders have set up a game of chicken with the feds — with funding for our hospitals being put at risk.
As we left Tallahassee, the gridlock on health care caused legislative leaders to declare that they would not be able to pass a budget by the end of session on May 1 – forcing them to come back in a special session to keep the argument going.