Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor preaches benefits of new health care law

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor says the law is to thank for $47 million in local rebates.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor says the law is to thank for $47 million in local rebates.

The debut of the online health insurance marketplace means consumers can consider competing policies at lower prices. But not everyone has a computer or the means to sift through all the options.

That's where community health centers come in: guiding folks to the right plan, said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa.

Castor visited the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center in St. Petersburg last week to talk about how the Affordable Care Act is helping Floridians and to promote the online marketplace.

She said among Affordable Care Act benefits is the requirement that co-pays and premiums go to health care services. Then, people get rebate checks.

In the Tampa Bay area, the act has generated $47 million in rebates for almost 1 million individuals, she said.

"When you receive that rebate check later this summer, you can thank Obamacare," she said.

The challenge is addressing the 20 to 25 percent of Floridians who don't have access to affordable health insurance, Castor said.

Community health centers play a huge role in reaching out, she said.

Cheryl Robinson, who oversees the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center, said the center has a team of people trained to go out into the community to inform people about finding the right plan on the marketplace.

Joseph Santini, business development director of Community Health Centers of Pinellas, said the grant money Castor has secured will allow the center to hire five to seven new employees. Along with retrained staff members, those employees will reach out to the 42 percent of their clientele that is uninsured.

"Let's face it. This is going to be labor intensive," Castor said. "That's why the grant money came to Community Health Centers of Pinellas, to hire those folks who will be on the ground."

Because of the state Legislature's rejection of expanded Medicaid, 1 million Floridians are left in a gap: unable to qualify for Medicaid, yet too poor to qualify for federal subsidies to help purchase insurance coverage on the online market exchange.

"When they fall in the gap, and there certainly is still a small gap, that's where we come in with our sliding fee schedule and we work with the individuals where they are financially to ensure that they have access to primary care," Santini said.

Castor called the rejection of expanded care a shortsighted decision for which all Floridians will pay.

"The speaker of the House, and the people that support it, in essence said, 'If you are a hardworking person but you make less than $20,000 a year, we're going to bar you from the doctor's office. Go to the emergency room,'" Castor said. "Hopefully, they will change their minds."

Claire McNeill can be reached at

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor preaches benefits of new health care law 08/08/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 9, 2013 5:07pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.