Florida Democrats Fight For Health Care Tour Highlights Need to Protect Affordable Care Act, People With Pre-Existing Conditions

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6 mins read

Tampa, FL – On Thursday, Florida Democratic Party (FDP) Chair Terrie Rizzo kicked off the inaugural Florida Democrats Fight for Health Care Tour along the I-4 corridor with roundtable discussions in Tampa and Lakeland. Due to an abundance of caution regarding COVID-19, FDP indefinitely postponed the roundtables scheduled in DeLand and Orlando. 

To launch this effort, FDP launched a digital billboard on Monday in Orlando ahead of President Trump’s fundraiser to contrast the Trump and Democratic health care agendas. The billboards are in English and in Spanish and read “Trump’s America: The Rich Get Richer [and] The Sick Get Sicker.” 

Lakeland Roundtable participants from left to right: Dr. Kathie Sutherland, Karen Clay, Terrie Rizzo, and Micael Spake
Tampa Roundtable participants from left to right: Starre Emerson, Karen Clay, Terrie Rizzo, and Cramer Verde

Click the links to view livestreams of the events in Tampa and Lakeland

Highlights from the roundtables:
FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo spoke to the need to elect a president who follows through on health care promises:
“The importance of having access to health care is made all the more clear by the impact the coronavirus outbreak is already having on our communities and our economy. It’s impossible to have a thriving and stable country, state, or community if people are sick or scared for their health or the health of their family and friends. 
“We need a president who understands that. More importantly, we need a president who can follow through on their promise to Americans that we will have affordable, accessible health care.” 
“Donald Trump has spent three years in office pushing health care policies that range from ineffective to downright destructive.”


Karen Clay, president of the Florida Democratic Disability Caucus and mother of a son born with neuromuscular disease, criticized Trump’s broken promises on Medicaid block grants and called for more attention to be paid to how coronavirus might affect the disability community: 
“For someone like my son, Medicaid is more than a lifeline. A Medicaid waiver is a life. It enables him to live at home and we care for him. And the reason that he is 39 years old today is that we have taken such good care for him at home.”
“[…] The number of people in the disability community that would be impacted [by Coronavirus] is far greater than any other segment of the population and they are not talking about that at all.”


Cramer Verde, interim president of the Democratic Hispanic Caucus of Florida, shared a story about how a family member diagnosed with cancer illustrates just how important it is to fight for healthcare:
“I had a personal experience with a family member that got sick and she was diagnosed with cancer. This is going to sound ironic, but I was happy that she got sick in Massachusetts and not in Florida because if she were to get sick in Florida, she was either going to go bankrupt or maybe not afford the care that she needed…In the state of Massachusetts they provide health care for everyone that pays taxes there and she got proper care and now she is cured. 
“I would like that to be the case for everyone in the country. Why do we have states that can do this — and can’t Florida also do this. Why don’t we approve extension of Medicaid so more people can get the care they need.” 


Starre Emerson, a senior on Medicare, shared why it is so critical to protect Medicare from Trump’s proposed cuts: 
“It’s hitting me as a social justice issue — that you can work all your life and reach the age of a senior and then all of a sudden be vulnerable to have your health care taken away at a time when diseases are beginning to show because of your age.” 

athie Sutherland, Chair of the Polk County Democratic Executive Committee, and a retired OB/GYN contrasted her years working before and after the ACA:
“I was a practitioner many years before the Affordable Care Act was passed and saw a lot of differences in how people’s lives were improved after. I am committed to elect Democrats this cycle because it would make a difference in people’s lives, our nation, and our health care.


“People need to have access to healthcare. If they don’t, they would wait too long and then it’s too late. A person may not go to the doctor because they can’t afford it, and wait to go to the emergency room when they are sicker. Therefore, I am a believer in getting the people elected that will help to get health care access to Americans and not those who are constantly looking to get rid of it.”


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Florida Democrats believe in effective and efficient government that prioritizes quality education, affordable health care, and an economy in which anyone who works hard can succeed.

Most importantly, we believe that we are stronger together. We believe the fundamental American promise — that you can go as far as your own hard work will take you — should shine brightest in Florida.

That is why we champion the middle class and cherish the principle that all Floridians should have the opportunity to work hard and succeed. That is why we will never stop fighting for better public schools, because education is the surest path to a better life for millions.

From standing for affordable health care and better schools to fighting for civil rights and access to the ballot box, Florida Democrats are leading every day to move our state forward.

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