TAMPA — As the deadline to enroll in Obamacare nears, a group of doctors and volunteers kicked off a statewide tour Saturday to help Floridians get insured.
Doctors for America, a national organization of more than 16,000 physicians and medical students, answered questions about the Affordable Care Act and assisted with enrollment at the Tampa Family Health Center on Nebraska Avenue.
Joined by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and state Reps. Betty Reed and Janet Cruz, the group stressed the importance of learning about health insurance options first hand, instead of relying on rumors and false information as the March 31 deadline looms.
"Obtaining health insurance is not something simple," said Dr. Mona Mangat, chair of Doctors for America and an allergist-immunologist based in St. Petersburg. "You have to understand what you are doing."
About 300,000 Floridians have enrolled and 88 percent of them were eligible for financial assistance, Mangat said, bringing many of them below $100 a month for coverage.
Getting that information to those who need it is an important first step, Reed said.
"I know in my district and around the state, there are so many people who are suffering because they don't have health insurance," he said. "Get them to come in and get enrolled. Find out where you can go to get the information and support you need."
And that message is for the healthy and young, too, Buckhorn said.
"We need young people," Buckhorn said. "It's important to spread the word. Fire up that Facebook and get those Twitter fingers going."
Doctors for America continued its tour Saturday afternoon in Orlando. The group will head to Jacksonville on March 1 and Tallahassee on March 5.
In Tampa, people interested in getting more information can go to one of the city's recreation centers, Buckhorn said, where navigators will be available to provide assistance. For more information, call (813) 422-4917.
Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.