Local Health Care Advocates Join Protect Our Care to Call for an End to GOP Attacks on Floridians’ Health Care

Montel Williams speaks in front of Care Force One in Miami, Florida.

MIAMI, FLORIDA – This morning, Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour arrived in Miami to call attention to the ongoing Republican war on health care care. Headlined by Montel Williams and Mary Barzee Flores, the event highlighted the actions Republicans are taking to harm Floridians’ care and called on Republicans  to work instead to protect our care.

“Less than five months ago, I suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke that would have killed half the people who had it. I’m still standing today because I was blessed enough to have a career that’s given me an opportunity to pay into an insurance policy that covered me. But I’m not just here because of me. In the last three years, I’ve had a daughter who went through two bouts of lymphoma. We’re very blessed that she survived it, but she was only able to survive it because she was covered by the Affordable Care Act,” said Williams. “Had a normal family suffered this kind of catastrophic medical issue, they would be not just poor, but living on the street.

“For the previous 22 years, I registered as a Republican every single time, but I no longer register as a Republican. I register as an independent so that my independent voice can be heard on behalf of all those who can’t speak for themselves.”

Williams’ remarks were echoed by Barzee Flores, who spoke of her health issues her father suffered and how it inspired her to become a health care advocate.

“When I was about eleven, he lost his job, and when he lost his job, he lost his health care. And as he got sicker, we got poorer. And I’ll tell you what – I was only about eleven or twelve years old, and even I could tell how my family went from solidly middle-class to poor almost overnight. And there’s nothing remarkable about that story, because it’s happening day after day across this country, and it was happening even more before the Affordable Care Act became law,” said Barzee Flores. “Folks all over this country fear that they are one health crisis away from bankruptcy. And yet we’ve got Republicans politicians and a president and Rick Scott who have time and time again acted inconsistent with their own constituents to rip tens of millions of Americans of their health care.”

The importance of Williams’ and Barzee Flores’ remarks were made clear by cancer survivor Laura Packard.

“I’m alive because of the Affordable Care Act,” said Packard. “I’m a stage four cancer survivor and I’m on this tour to defend our attacks against the GOP. President Trump may have blocked me on Twitter, but he can’t stop me and the American people from fighting to protect our care.”

Williams, Barzee Flores, and Packard were joined by Paul Velez, CEO of the Borinquen Health Center; Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, chief of internal medicine at the University of Miami; Eva Perez, a cancer survivor and board member at the Borinquen Health Center; and Elena Hung, co-founder of Little Lobbyists.

At today’s event, Miami residents, health care advocates, elected officials and members of Protect Our Care detailed the numbers ways in which Republicans have attacked health care, and how these actions have cut coverage and increased costs for Floridians. Because of the Republican repeal-and-sabotage agenda:

  • Floridians will see their premiums increase by an average of more than five percent this year.  It’s expected that 40 year old Floridians will face paying an extra $900 for marketplace coverage in 2019 because of Republican sabotage of the health care market.
  • In Florida, out of pocket costs for older people could have increased by as much as $10,372 by 2026 if the House-passed American Health Care Act had become law.
  • More than 650,000 Floridians have been denied access to affordable health coverage through Republican state officials’ refusal to expand Medicaid.
  • Junk insurance plans that charge money for skimpy coverage could return to Florida and 609,000 Floridians could lack comprehensive coverage in 2019 because they will either become uninsured or will be enrolled in junk plans that don’t provide key health benefits.
  • More than 1.4 million Floridians who have obtained health insurance through the ACA marketplace could lose their coverage if a judge sides with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi,  President Trump and the GOP in their lawsuit; and protections nearly 7.8 million Floridians living with a pre-existing condition would be in jeopardy.
  • Hundreds of billions of dollars have been cut from Medicare.
  • Dozens of hospitals in rural areas, including Campbellton-Graceville Hospital in Florida (2017), have closed, exacerbating the care and coverage gaps that exist for families in America’s rural communities.
  • Governor Rick Scott has been an opponent of the Affordable Care Act since day one.  Scott has blocked Medicaid expansion that could provide care for more than 650,000 Floridians, helped the Trump administration draft bills that would repeal the Affordable Care Act and he refuses to ask Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to remove herself from a lawsuit that threatens access to care for 7.8 million Floridians living with pre-existing conditions.
  • Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart, and Brian Mast  voted for and passed a health care repeal bill that would cause 23 million people to lose coverage and gut protections for people with pre-existing condition; voted for a budget amendment that would cut Medicaid by $700 billion over ten years, $114 billion in a single year alone; and voted for a tax scam that doubled as a sneaky repeal of the Affordable Care Act  by kicking 13 million people off of their insurance and raising premiums by double digits for millions more.

Tomorrow, Care Force One’ will head to Port St. Lucie. For more information, please visit protectourcarebustour.com.