Advertisement
  1. Florida Politics

Protesters, politicians urge Rubio to vote no on Senate health care plan

Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa addresses Wednesday’s rally.
Published Jun. 29, 2017

TAMPA — Even as experts struggle to grasp the cost and impact of the latest proposed replacement bill for Obamacare, Tampa resident Delores Grayson knows this much: "My medication is very important, and if they pass something I can't afford I might as well be dead."

Grayson was among a few dozen lobbyists, politicians and everyday citizens who gathered in West Tampa on Wednesday to vent their frustrations about proposed health care changes to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio who has yet to take a public position on the bill.

The Florida Republican wasn't there — only a cardboard cutout of him was in the room. So Grayson, a retired grandmother and volunteer with the nonprofit Organize Florida, told the roomful of protesters about the recent triple-bypass heart surgery that left her reliant on $600 worth of medication each month for survival.

Paying for the medicine on her own would be impossible, Grayson said.

"I paid my dues. I'm retired and I want the chance to see my grandkids grow up and enjoy my life and work with my community," she said. "This medication has given me a chance to do that, but I shouldn't have to be a millionaire to afford it."

The event, organized by the super PAC For Florida's Future, was part of a statewide "Day of Action'' to urge Rubio to reject the Senate's proposal. Speakers noted statistics claiming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Better Care Reconciliation Act would reduce the ranks of insured people by 23 million, leave more than 51 million people uninsured over the next 10 years and could result in 43,000 deaths annually.

Rep. Sean Shaw, D-Tampa, joined speakers from the Florida-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Planned Parenthood, VoteVets.org, Florida Council of Churches and the Florida chapter of the AFL-CIO in decrying the bill.

Should the bill pass, more than $839 billion will be cut from Medicaid funding, Shaw said. A June 2017 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that half of Florida's children and three in five nursing home residents depend on Medicaid and the state's Children's Health Insurance Program.

"I don't understand what the good part is. I don't understand why Republicans continue to push this," Shaw said. "I do understand why they did it in secret, because it's terrible.''

Marc Rodrigues, an organizer with the Florida AFL-CIO, said the only solution is to push the U.S. closer toward a single-payer health care system. More than 181,000 jobs in Florida and 3 million nationwide could be at risk under the proposed bill, Rodrigues said, leading to a $1.5 trillion loss for Florida's gross product. Those at-risk jobs are mainly in the senior care industry, which is one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the nation, he said.

"The cuts to Medicaid would trigger widespread layoffs in this sector, which could disproportionately affect females and workers of color," Rodrigues said. "Where are these people supposed to go when laid off from jobs?"

Times reporter Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this report. Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. FILE - In this June 20, 2018 photo, immigrant children walk in a line outside the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children a former Job Corps site that now houses them in Homestead, Fla.  Migrant children who were separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border last year suffered post-traumatic stress and other serious mental health problems, according to a government watchdog report obtained by The Associated Press Wednesday. The chaotic reunification process only added to their trauma. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File) BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    Since Homestead’s closing on Aug. 3, at least $33,120,000 has been paid to Caliburn, the company contracted by the government to run Homestead.
  2. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the Canadian Snowbird Act introduced in Congress, the visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  3. The Florida House Education Committee focuses on early education in its first meeting of the 2020 session. The Florida Channel
    School security and early learning get top billing in the first committee meetings of the looming 2020 session.
  4. Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran speaks to an unidentified man outside of Tampa Bay Academy Monday, April 15, 2019 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Richard Corcoran has convinced the State Board of Education to sign off on a new funding formula for the 28-college system, which, with more than 320,000 students, is widely viewed as one of the...
  5. Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Miami while visiting Ball & Chain in Little Havana for a meet-and-greet with Hispanic voters on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. [CARL JUSTE CJUSTE | Miami Herald]
    While candidates vie for votes in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early primary states, the struggle in Florida six months from the primary election is about big money.
  6. A view of the I-275 northbound Sunpass lane at the Skyway Bridge. VRAGOVIC, WILL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The lost money is from unpaid tolls stemming from problems with the vendor Conduent State & Local Solutions.
  7. Mark. S, Inch, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections, at the State Capitol, May, 1, 2019. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Mark Inch said the root of the problem lies with low salaries and long shifts for prison guards.
  8. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  9. Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, speaks to delegates during the 2019 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Springfield, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) JESSICA HILL  |  AP
    Kimberly Diaz Scott was the Central Florida regional director for Charlie Crist’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign when he ran as a Democrat against Rick Scott.
  10. In this July 22, 2008, photo, traffic passes in front of the New York Times building in New York. MARK LENNIHAN  |  AP
    The allegation stems from their reporting on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement