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Rally pushes lawmakers to expand Medicaid

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Odalis R. Camacho adult son Juan is one of the 110,000 Orlando residents in the gap

With the election behind them, the next crop of Florida legislators met for the first time Nov. 18 in Tallahassee.

Health care advocates also rallied in Orlando to push state officials to expand Medicaid.

About 1 million Floridians fall into what’s known as the coverage gap.  They’re too poor to get subsidized health insurance plans through Health Reform but they can’t get Medicaid either because Florida didn’t accept Federal money to expand the program.

Athena Smith Ford, advocacy director for Florida CHAIN, said those without insurance include 60,000 veterans as well as working parents, students and the unemployed.

“A lot of people who work jobs that are the backbone of Florida’s tourism economy, so servers and people who watch our kids and the folks that clean the hotel rooms are likely falling in the coverage gap right now,” Ford said.

Odalis R. Camacho’s adult son Juan is one of the 110,000 Orlando residents in the gap.

“We need to finish this gap and be able to accept this money to Central Florida because there’s a lot of people like my son, like me, like so many others dying, losing their life, and not having a quality life because they cannot qualify for an insurance,” Camacho said.

Advocates say expanding Medicaid would create 67,000 jobs and draw down $15 million every day from the federal government.

Lawmakers nearly passed an expansion in 2013, but the measure ultimately failed, and lawmakers didn’t take up the issue this year.

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Abe Aboraya

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