Press Statement – Miami Mayor, Hispanic Chamber, and Uninsured Call on Lawmakers to Expand Medicaid

Press Contact: Athena Smith Ford

(570) 760 1828, [email protected]

City of Miami Mayor Tomás Pedro Regalado, Uninsured Residents, and Health Advocates Call on Lawmakers to Close the Coverage Gap

Press conference in Miami Chambers on need to expand health care under Affordable Care Act, featuring powerful photo display of uninsured Floridians

CITY OF MIAMI – This morning, City of Miami Mayor Tomás Pedro Regalado joined local uninsured residents, health care advocates, business leaders, and concerned citizens at City Hall to call on lawmakers to close the Florida Coverage Gap. While the press conference featured several influential speakers including Mayor Regalado, Julio Fuentes, President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Athena Smith Ford, Advocacy Director, Florida CHAIN; Miriam Harmatz, Senior Legal Attorney, Florida Legal Services; and Santra Denis, Community Health Director, Catalyst Miami, it also included a powerful visual: dozens of photographs of uninsured Floridians.

The Florida Coverage Gap was created by the failure of Florida lawmakers to accept more than $50 billion made available to our state by the Affordable Care Act so that Floridians making around the poverty line or less could get access to health care coverage. To this point Mayor Regalado said in his remarks “There are technicalities, and there are philosophical issues but the bottom line is that there are thousands and thousands of residents of the city of Miami that do not have health coverage and won’t be able to buy health coverage.”

The dozens of photographs that were featured are part of a traveling project called Lives on the Line that captures the real people stuck in the Florida Coverage Gap. They’ve been collected from clinics and town centers across the state and will be displayed in multiple cities before eventually making their way to the Capitol.

Leaving nearly a million Floridians uninsured is hurting Florida’s economy. Our state’s own Revenue Estimating Conference concluded that even though Florida would eventually kick in a small share of the costs of coverage, taking this deal would be an enormous fiscal win for our state. Referring to a Miami specific impact study undertaken by Florida Legal Services, Miriam Harmatz explained that the state legislature’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion translates into the loss of “over $1 billion a year” in funds that would flow to health care providers in south Florida to cover the newly insured.