Open Letter to EYEONCITRUS.COM from Senator Bill Nelson

Dear Friends,
I believe we should treat others as we wish to be treated, especially those who are less fortunate through no fault of their own. And I believe, as the Good Book says, you should leave the gleanings of your harvest for the poor.
One way we could improve, even save, the lives of some of our fellow Floridians is by expanding access to medical care. Roughly 1.2 million low-income residents could benefit if we expanded the program for the poor known as Medicaid.
I’ve offered our state leaders one idea about how it could still be done – an idea I think elected officials of both major political parties should at least consider. I’m sharing an opinion column that was just published by TCPalm.com, the online site for Scripps Newspapers serving the Treasure Coast.
Please take a minute to read it, and if you agree, then consider asking the governor to urge lawmakers to act. Word is the governor is considering a special session not on Medicaid expansion but on casino gambling. You will find information for contacting the governor’s office at:
www.flgov.com/contact-gov-scott/
As always, thank you for your interest in public service.
Sincerely,


Florida lawmakers dilly dally while constituents die
By Michael Goforth
Published: April 26, 2014
After refusing to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act to Florida’s working poor last year, state lawmakers have refused during the current session of the Legislature to even discuss the issue.
That is, until now, with only a few days left to do anything.
If lawmakers had been serious about helping an estimated 800,000 to 1.1 million residents get health insurance coverage, there would have been serious talk much earlier. Instead, what we seem to be getting is political posturing.
Last year, the Florida Senate approved a proposal from Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, to expand health coverage for residents by accepting federal money and allowing the uninsured to purchase insurance on the open market.
But, House Republicans, who don’t like Obamacare or Medicaid, shot the idea down.
As a result, the state rejected about $51 billion in federal funding over the next decade. There would have been no cost to the state for expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for the first few years and then the state would have had to pick up the tab for no more than 10 percent of the cost.
Also as a consequence of state’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage — for those who make too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid but too little to qualify for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act — researchers at Harvard Medical School and the City University of New York estimated 1,158 to 2,221 Floridians would die annually. Those lives, researchers found, could be saved with health coverage.
That’s a chilling reality that ideologically driven Republican leaders, particularly in the state House, apparently don’t find compelling enough to take action.
On April 15, Florida’s U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson opened fresh debate in a letter to Florida’s governor and legislative leaders saying he had gotten word that the federal government is “ready and willing” to work with the state in designing its own plan for expanding Medicaid coverage for the state’s needy.
And Nelson even suggested an alternative to state funding for the Medicaid expansion. His plan called for counties and hospital taxing districts, which subsidize indigent care at hospitals, to shift some of that money to pay the state’s share for Medicaid expansion.
Nelson reckoned that if Tallahassee lawmakers are worried about the cost to the state for the program, his proposal would remedy that concern.
But, the issue really wasn’t as much about money as about politics. Nelson’s idea has apparently fallen flat with legislative leaders.
In response to Nelson’s letter, however, state Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, sent a letter April 17 to Sylvia Burwell, secretary-designate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, suggesting potential talk about Medicaid expansion if there would be more flexibility by the federal government.
Those include allowing the state to partially or gradually expand Medicaid, require recipients to pay a share of their costs, and reduce “bureaucratic barriers that block innovations,” whatever that means.
Remember, this is from the same Senate that last year actually approved a form of Medicaid expansion only to see it rejected by the House.
In closing his lengthy letter, Gaetz wrote, “It would be wrong to conclude that the lack of an expansion decision to date means that Florida does not recognize unmet health care needs in this state or lacks a commitment to improvement. The debate over how to improve access to affordable care is serious, vigorous, and ongoing, but we need your help. We ask you to contribute to our ability to find an affordable and sustainable method to provide access to quality health care for all Floridians by authorizing greater flexibility and creating true partnerships between states and the federal government.”
What a bunch of horse hockey.
The federal government wants to give Florida some of our tax money to provide health insurance to our state’s working poor. But, our lawmakers would rather play games while the uninsured die.
Residents of other states are benefiting from the Affordable Care Act and expansion of Medicaid — including under Republican leadership in states such as Arizona and New Jersey. Our lawmakers, though, would rather see residents suffer by scoring political points against a program and a president they don’t like.
They should be embarrassed. But, that would require that they have a conscience.

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Oh, Florida Time for a house cleaning in FL SO BE IT, click here

Welcome to Florida sign at State of Florida Official Welcome Center, Hamilton County, Florida

Unless you’re uninsured …

Oh, Florida.

The Florida Department of Health has become the latest arm of state government to distance itself from  the federal Affordable Care Act. It has ordered county health units not to allow outreach workers called Navigators onto their property to help uninsured people sign up for subsidized health coverage.

The order from C. Meade Grigg, deputy DOH secretary for statewide services, went out late Monday to  the 60 local health department directors around the state. He wrote that the staff may accept informational materials from the Navigators to hand out upon request.

“However, Navigators will not conduct activities on the grounds of the health departments,” Grigg wrote. He said the policy was developed after some had asked DOH for permission to operate within state facilities, presumably because uninsured people often seek treatment there.

So much for the mission statement of the Florida Department of Health to "protect, promote & improve the health of all people in Florida," and its vision statement to "be the Healthiest State in the Nation." Apparently they don’t serve "all" people in Florida, just the ones who already have insurance.

There are 3.8 million people in Florida without health insurance.

Please sign our petition telling Florida Department of Health officials to allow health care Navigators on state owned health facilities to discuss the Affordable Care Act.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Sep 12, 2013 at 02:38 PM PDT.
Also republished by Daily Kos., eyeoncitrus.com

Seniors are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act

Seniors and their caregivers should be watching closely as the Supreme Court hears arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the health reform law and other aspects of health care provisions affecting seniors under the act.

At stake are major new benefits for people enrolled in Medicare that shouldn’t be overlooked during the legal wrangling in Washington, D.C. image Contrary to intentional misinformation meant to scare seniors, health reform is working and millions of Americans 65 and older are already reaping new benefits of an improved Medicare program.

Health reform has removed many financial barriers to preventive care for those with Medicare. Beneficiaries can now access services like annual wellness visits, cancer screening, and cholesterol checks with no out-of-pocket costs.

The dreaded "donut hole," the coverage gap that left seniors paying thousands out of pocket for lifesaving medications, will soon become a thing of the past. It is shrinking annually, and consumers are now getting 50 percent off name-brand drugs while in the hole. By 2020, the donut hole will be gone.

Surely the health reform law will bring big changes for Americans that will be confusing as they are put into place without well planned preparatory seminars for seniors. But the haze that has obscured the reality of the health reform law is starting to clear. As the fog lifts and seniors begin to understand and access these new benefits, it’s obvious Medicare recipients are already much better off.

In 2011 alone, nearly 3.6 million people with Medicare saved $2.1 billion on their prescription drugs thanks to the new law, and $135 million of that here in Texas. An estimated 32 million beneficiaries took advantage of at least one free preventive service. All the while, for many Medicare enrollees, Part B premiums actually declined in 2010 and 2011.

These are tangible benefits that seniors should demand be preserved regardless of the outcome of the Supreme Court case.

And if we can make it to 2014 with the Affordable Care Act intact, people who retire before age 65 will no longer have to struggle with unaffordable coverage as they anxiously await Medicare eligibility. Early retirees will get access to new health insurance exchange marketplaces that will not charge more or deny coverage on the basis of health conditions, and will also give a hand to moderate-income families who need help affording insurance.

But our new preventive care benefits will only work if we can get an appointment. Too many physicians are announcing they intend to accept no new Medicare patients, leaving seniors to wonder if this reflects an attitude of indifference to older Americans. Perhaps we seniors should demand better care from our Medicare doctors? One way we can improve access to the new Medicare preventive care under the ACA is to increase the number of health care providers trained in senior medical care. Texas and far too many other states lack strong geriatric training requirements in most health care science programs. Geriatric education in medical school results in healthier seniors and better care because physicians understand the aging body and treat it with greater insight and respect. Without required minimum standards for certification and continuing education, physicians today are just not keeping up with the latest in treatments, medications and considerations for those over 65.

Pairing the ACA’s new Medicare prevention benefits with strong standards for physicians to annually update their knowledge of care for seniors could improve outcomes without cost to taxpayers. The more our doctors know about optimal care for seniors, the better the care. Fewer medication errors and hospitalizations would be a happy result. And many physicians would fulfill their continuing education requirements in the process – improving care and cutting costs without adding to the expense of state agencies.

As the law continues to be debated, we’re likely to hear more of the same "government takeover" rhetoric. But ask a senior who’s gotten a free checkup or a break on the cost of prescription drugs and you’re likely to hear another story: about how the health reform law brings with it a sigh of relief.

Streckfuss is a retired registered nurse.

REVEALED: Fox & GOP Conspire to Kill Public Option

Fox News stand in Hennepin County, Minnesota
Image via Wikipedia

Dear Editor:

Today Media Matters for America released leaked internal Fox News emails detailing an in-house policy to regurgitate Republican talking points on the air to smear health care reform. Finally we have proof that during the health reform debate Fox News ordered its reporters to use only Republican poll-tested language, such as “government option,”1 instead of the more precise and widely accepted “public option” to make the case that the offering would be a government takeover of our health care system.

Now is the time to fight back against huge corporate interests like Fox and its parent company, News Corp. Click here and forward this email to your friends and family.

As the country focuses on the implementation of the historic health care law, it is essential that we expose politically motivated reporting poorly disguised as “fair and balanced.” America’s working families won’t be bullied by a propagandist cable network and the politicians it hires and endorses.

We reject Fox News and its attempts to continually attack the Affordable Care Act and the people who support it under the guise of legitimate “reporting.” The repeal-mongers have a cable news network, but we have the grassroots on our side. Get the word out about Fox and send this message to as many people as you can.

The line between news and politicking has been obliterated thanks to Fox News’s brazen partisanship. When you look at the way Fox News hires so many Republican presidential candidates as commentators and the way the network follows the party’s poll-tested talking points, it’s clear that Fox News is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Republican agenda. The American people lose when a network’s news presentation is designed only to serve the political goals of billionaires and big corporations.

In Solidarity,
Melinda Gibson
Health Care for America Now

1. Media Matters for America – LEAKED EMAIL: Fox boss caught slanting news reporting

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