[Press Statement] – Struggling Uninsured Rally in St. Pete for Health Care for Holidays

December 18, 2014—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Olivia Babis
727-217-5291, [email protected]
All We Want for the Holidays is Healthcare:  
Local Leaders and Activists Gather in Support of Closing Coverage Gap

St Petersburg, FL– The Florida Consumer Action Network, Florida CHAIN, and Darden Rice, City Council Member, hosted a news conference at St. Petersburg City Hall this afternoon to call on lawmakers to close the healthcare coverage gap in Florida. Speakers included Saint Petersburg Mayor, Rick Kriseman, Darden Rice, City Council Member, St. Petersburg, Olivia Babis, Community Organizer, Florida Consumer Action Network, Athena Smith Ford, Advocacy Director at Florida CHAIN, Alex Salfer-Hobbs, Consumer in Coverage gap, and Dr. Mona Mangat, Board Chair at Doctors for America.

With supporters behind her, Olivia Babis, Community Organizer at Florida Consumer Action Network, stated “All we want for the holidays is healthcare for every Floridian. Nearly a million working moms and dads, veterans, students, unemployed workers, and others are stuck in the Florida Coverage Gap. This just isn’t right. All Floridians deserve the security of knowing they can see a doctor when they need to.”

Alex Salfer-Hobbs, a recent college graduate spoke about the difficulties she’s faced while stuck in the coverage gap. Even though Salfer-Hobbs is 24, she no longer qualifies to stay on her parent’s insurance plan because they have Tri-care. “If you have to choose between putting food on your table and having health insurance, you better bet we are choosing to eat!” Salfer-Hobbs said. Dr Mona Mangat, Board Chair of Doctor’s for America added “The nearly one million Floridians in the coverage gap are more than just a number. These people are our patients, neighbors and friends. They work hard and care for their families. And they deserve state leaders who work hard for them. It’s time for Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to do the right thing and put people over politics.”

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 17% of the 4 million uninsured adults falling in the healthcare coverage gap in the United States live in Florida. There are currently 1 million uninsured adults in Florida who would be eligible for Medicaid if the state expanded its program. According to a new study published in January of this year, researchers at Harvard University and City University of NY estimate that FL’s failure to expand Medicaid could result in as many 2,200 deaths.

Last year, the measure to accept Medicaid Expansion passed in the Florida State Senate, but failed in the House when the Speaker of the House refused to bring the Senate version to the House floor.

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