White House report states that 1 out of 5 Floridians still lack health insurance

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President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010. - WIKIPEDIA.ORG
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  • President Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on March 23, 2010.
Physicians and residents of the Sunshine State are urging Florida’s elected leaders to accept federal funding for healthcare as Floridians and business in the state is affected.

Doctors for America held a press call this morning to discuss the consequences of the 24 states around the country who opted not to expand Medicaid. These effects were highlighted in a report released by the White House Council of Economic Advisers earlier this month.

The report explains how 5.7 million people will be deprived of health insurance coverage in 2016 because of states failure to expand Medicaid. At the same time, states that refuse the federal funding will lose billions of dollars that could boost their economies.

“This report really should be a wakeup call for Florida's leaders who have been sitting on their hands while Floridians are struggling to get care,” Chair of Doctors for America Dr. Mona Mangat said. “In turning down the $51 billion to expand access to healthcare, Florida's leaders are hurting the state's economy, we're losing out on jobs and Floridians are being kept from life-saving healthcare. Simply put, rejecting Medicaid funding is bad business for Florida.”

Florida is one of those 24 states who decided following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in 2020 not to expand Medicaid. By doing so, these states are rejecting the federal funding they would have received had they went through with the expansion. The report from the Council of Economic Advisers said that Florida will lose out on some 63,800 jobs between 2014 and 2017.

This means states will not have the opportunity to use this funding to help their economies thrive.

The report also states that the $88 billion in federal funding could have created 379,000 jobs through 2017.

“Florida could be benefiting from federal funding to cover nearly one million people in poverty, but they are left without affordable healthcare coverage purely because of politics,” Executive Director of Doctors for America Dr. Alice Chen said. “That's why doctors and patients across the state urge Florida's leaders to put patients over politics and accept federal funding to help people get covered.”

By denying the Medicaid expansion, nearly 1 out of 5 Floridians still lack health insurance. Unless they have the money to do so, these people will find themselves in a sticky predicament if they suddenly become ill.

This worries Susan Burns, a 55-year-old small business owner who hasn’t had health insurance for more than ten years.

“If I had healthcare, I wouldn't be scared everyday knowing I have no safety net. That if I became seriously ill and couldn't work, I could lose everything,” Burns said. “If you don't have your health, you do not have anything. I just don't understand why this governor and legislature are sending our tax dollars to other states while hardworking people like me suffer.”

Burns is unable to access lifesaving cancer screenings because of her lack of health insurance. She has not been to a well-woman visit in nine years.

University of South Florida student Chad Riese doesn’t have health insurance either.

Riese is epileptic and often has seizures. Instead of having to worry about paying back college loans, Riese has to find a way to pay off his $100,000 in medical debt.

“My goal right now is to never give up on my future, which includes obviously getting my degree,” Riese said. “While I haven't given up on my future, it seems like Governor Scott and the Florida Legislature have given up on me.”

Physicians and medical students who are part of Doctors for America are working together to make sure people like Burns and Riese receive affordable, high quality healthcare.

“We are hoping that the efforts of the advocates around the state and a lot of the medical community coming together behind supporting Medicaid expansion… will have a positive effect on the state legislature and our current governor,” Mangat said. “It’s not too late for [them] to right this wrong.”

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