How Medicaid Expansion Affects Our Patients and Our Jobs

The Medicaid expansion debate raging in Tallahassee can seem pretty abstract at times, as lawmakers consider whether and how to move billions of federal dollars to help millions of people access quality healthcare in communities across Florida.

But here’s a fact that isn’t abstract at all — Medicaid expansion could mean $35 million extra dollars flowing to Jackson Health System every year. That’s according to JHS CEO Carlos Migoya. He penned a memo on the subject yesterday, noting that the issue is complicated for Jackson because of unanswered questions about changes to reimbursement rates and other factors. Read the story here.

We support expansion because it will help our hard-working patients who make just a little too much to get Medicaid coverage, yet not enough to afford private insurance. Expansion would mean that a family of three making less than $26,000 a year could get covered. It would cover more than 200,000 residents in Miami-Dade alone.

Many of us have stories about patients in this situation who wait until they have a health crisis to finally see a doctor, usually in our ERs, where the cost of patching them up is up to five times higher than it would be if they could access primary care. We fix them, and then send them back out on the streets, where they most likely are not getting the followup they need to stay healthy. It can be a vicious and disheartening cycle.

Expanding healthcare is a major step toward changing that paradigm.

We also support expansion because it will help Jackson make the changes it must to survive long term, including shifting costs from crisis mode to primary care throughout the system. If they don’t do that, Jackson’s public mission won’t be sustainable. And that could mean revisiting some of the low points we’ve had as a public hospital, when we all bore the cost of the financial strain.

We don’t want to go back. We must go forward.

Here’s How You Can Help:

Share Your Stories: We are collecting real stories from the frontlines that illustrate the challenges our patients face and/or the benefits expansion could bring. Some of these stories may be used to interest local media in covering the debate. Others will travel with us to Tallahassee as our healthcare professionals speak directly to legislators about our issues. To share a story or find out more, contact us at union@seiu1991.org. Or call the office at 305 620-6555 and ask for Rebecca.

Call these legislators: Call State Rep. Erik Fresen and State Rep. Jose Diaz at 866-443-1844, and tell them to support Medicaid expansion because it will save lives, create jobs and strengthen Florida’s economy, or tell them to drop their taxpayer subsidized healthcare!

Attend a Vigil: Vigil in Support of Floridians Who Need Healthcare. Thursday, April 18, 2013 @ 6:00 p.m. in State Representative Erik Fresen’s neighborhood –1500 SW 45th Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134.

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