St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and City Council member Darden Rice joined representatives of some of the leading health care advocates: Florida CHAIN (Community Health Action Information Network), Families USA- the national organization for health care consumers, Doctors for America, and local residents affected by Florida’s coverage gap for a news conference on Friday. On one of the first crisp Florida fall days this year, members of this group explained the stark difference between states that have provided their workers with Medicaid expansion and those that have not.
According to the speakers, in order for the Affordable Care Act to work in Florida, Medicaid expansion must be expanded. The focus today was on low-income families. Families USA points out the fact that these workers are the backbone of Florida’s economy
. They say that Florida’s current Medicaid program only covers parents with extremely low incomes and no coverage for the same low income adults that don’t have children. For those in a family of three, and with an income of merely $6,930, the expansion of health care could cover incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Philippe Villers, founder and president of Families USA, a national healthcare advocacy group, says that if 1 million people in Florida gain coverage, 70,000 jobs will be created, resulting in billions of dollars for its economy. “How many people realize that today in Florida and some other states, you can be too poor to get help?” he asks. “In Florida, in order to get help based on money, a family of three must make under $7,000, so if you make even 30 percent of minimum wage, you don’t qualify for help on Medicaid, but you are too poor to qualify for a Federal help. That leaves you right in the middle. Hundreds of thousands of Floridians are too poor to get help,” says Villers. “I consider that just plain immoral,” he says. Statistically, the worst city in the nation for coverage is Miami, at 25 percent, and Tampa and St. Pete are not far behind.