President Barack Obama's campaign is launching a Florida effort to highlight popular aspects of the Affordable Care Act, the sweeping, and still controversial, health care law enacted two years ago this month.
Starting this week, the Democratic National Committee will send nearly 200,000 mail pieces to female voters as outreach events are held across the state. Today, "Nurses for Obama" will kick off, using nurses to spread the word in their community. The week of March 26 will be dedicated as "Women's Week of Action."
That happens to be the same week the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the challenge to the law brought by Florida and other states. The law remains a focal point of the GOP presidential candidates and their calls to repeal "Obamacare" have proved a rallying cry for the base.
Democrats are hoping to counter that by calling attention to free preventive care like mammograms and colonoscopies, contraception coverage without a co-pay or deductible, and how young adults can stay on their parents' plans until they turn 26. "In the two years since the president signed his health reforms into law, millions of Americans have already experienced firsthand its important benefits and the economic security it provides," reads a campaign memo provided to the Tampa Bay Times.
"That's just the beginning," the memo reads. "As the law continues to phase in over the coming months, so will more of its benefits."
Scott hearing about Poly split
Gov. Rick Scott has still not received the bill that would immediately split off USF Polytechnic as the state's 12th university, and he still hasn't said whether he'll sign it. But he's getting plenty of advice on the subject.
Scott's office tells us that more than 130 emails about SB 1994 have come in over the past few weeks — and not one is in favor of it.
The bill pushed by Senate budget chairman JD Alexander short-cuts a plan already laid out by the Florida Board of Governors to allow USF Poly to become independent only after meeting a number of benchmarks, like a minimum enrollment and accreditation.
One email: We have a 1.4 billion dollar deficit in this state. We do not need to be bullied into a Polytechnic University we cannot afford, with a campus that does not exist, Neither do we need the Heartland Parkway which benefits no one but Senator Alexander. With a net value of some 10 million dollars, if Senator Alexander wants to be remembered in Lakeland, he should personally endow this university. Now that is the way to be remembered and admired, NOT by siphoning off the hard earned money of the taxpayers.
Storms criticized over bill
As state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, pushed at the end of Florida's session to pass reforms that would have helped protect elderly and mentally ill residents in assisted living facilities, she complained she didn't get an "honest broker" or a "dance partner" in the House.
But Rep. Eddy Gonzalez, R-Hialeah Gardens, insists the failed effort is not his fault.
"She had an honest broker and a great dance partner, but she never showed up at the dance," he said in a news release.
The release points out the strengths of HB 7133, which would have created a licensing requirement for administrators, a new advisory council to investigate ALF abuses and deaths, and required that abuses to residents be reported to a central hotline.
SB 2074, promoted by Storms, would have also shut down homes that cause a resident's death, imposed more inspections and required more education for administrators/caretakers.
On the last day of session, Storms tacked amendments onto the House bill and begged fellow lawmakers to take them up. House leaders refused because they said they were so harsh it would put ALFs out of business.
"Unfortunately, our state's most vulnerable seniors will have to wait at least another year for meaningful reform due to her last-minute actions," Gonzalez's release said.
Times staff writer Brittany Alana Davis contributed to this report.