Members of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee were in Downtown Orlando today, calling for state lawmakers to expand Medicaid during the June 1st special session. The budget stand off between the State Senate and the State House revolves around the controversial issue.
Those in attendance chanted “close the gap now” and waved signs as different local leaders and elected officials took to the podium.
“We will not be bullied” said Tiffany Namey, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Disability Caucus “We are calling on Governor Rick Scott, and Speaker Steve Crisafulli to stop putting politics ahead of the need of their constituents. Expand health care now!”
The Governor has argued that expansion of Medicaid will cost taxpayers 5 billion dollars over ten years and instead is calling on the federal government to grant a waiver on LIP (Low Income Pool) funding that would allow the state to keep funding the uninsured without expansion. The government pulled the state’s funding earlier in the spring.
“The decision by Governor Rick Scott and House Republicans to not expand health insurance to 800,000 Floridians has nothing to do with policy, it has everything to do with politics.” said OCDEC Chair Carlos Smith.
House Speaker Steve Crisafulli (R-Merrit Island) has been optimistic that a deal could get done after the federal government proposed 1.1 billion of the 2.2 billion needed for LIP, to get a budget done by June 20th. The prior lack of progress between the House and the Senate led to the former adjourning 3 days before the end of the regular session.
State Senator Darren Soto(D-Orlando was on hand for the rally, the Senate along with Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) is supporting expansion “In less than a week, we go back to Tallahassee and we go their extending an olive branch for doing the right thing. It’s time to be adults here and figure out a solution that everyone can live with. We will hold the line in the Senate that I promise you.”
Yesterday, Gardiner proposed a compromise that would remove phase I enrollment, and would allow potential enrollees to shop on the an Insurance Exchange before January. The proposal was met with mostly negative reviews. Critics still interpreted the move as a shift towards the implementation of “Obamacare”.
State Representative Victor Torres (D-Orlando) has been the most aggressive House Democrat from Central Florida pushing for expansion, his call of action was for concerned voters to get involved “I’ve been attending High School Graduations for the last week, and I”ve seen the disabled students graduating. Are we going to look out for them? Look at what’s going on in Tallahassee. Your voice is your vote. We need to do what we have to do to change atmosphere in Tallahassee.