Health - July 30, 2017

Orlando activists see opportunity in failed health care vote

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act in Central Florida had one message to Congress following the Senate vote that struck down a repeal health care act without replacement on Thursday night: it’s not over yet.

More than 30 health care activists from organizations including Organize Florida and Planned Parenthood affiliates rallied in downtown Orlando on Saturday for the National Day of Action to reiterate their support for Obamacare.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” Kirk Root, 28, said of the Congressional vote. “To have all this talk about changing legislation that actually helps people already, it’s like, … why is that even discussion. We shouldn’t even discuss it.”

Root, who suffers from multiple serious medical conditions including epilepsy, said the fight to retain Medicare coverage is personal and non-negotiable for him.

“If I didn’t have the coverage that I have, it’s very likely that I would have seizures multiple times a day, it would be constant, trying to just survive the day rather than just living,” he said. “Surviving rather than living, which is not something that I am willing to put up with.”

What represented a victory for some advocates, organizers said could be an opportunity to reignite the momentum the movement has acquired in recent months.

Yulissa Arce, 32, a regional organizer for Organize Florida, said although organizers are still figuring out where to go from here, they hope to keep fighting against any future efforts to repeal or replace Obamacare.

“The idea is we understand that this is an ongoing fight until we get some changes in Congress,” Arce said. “This is the community coming out and saying ‘don’t give up, this is not over yet and we have to really fight to really win.’”

Communications director for Organize Florida Cloe Cabrera argued the ACA could be improved, but the failed bill brought an opportunity to have an open process. “It feels like a victory, but we don’t want to get complacent,” she said.

Cabrera, 48, said efforts from Republicans to replace Obamacare should give communities the chance to weigh in.

“We want to know ok what’s in it for us and how does it help us so we know whether to move forward with some parts or no parts,” she said.

Arce also said Puerto Ricans increasingly relocating to Florida to flee the island’s economic crisis faced particular struggles when it came to health care.

We suspect that the kids are really going to suffer, folks are gonna come here and find it equally as difficult or if not even more difficult to find health care,” she said.

“We have to vote in the right people but we also have to hold people accountable when we vote them in and for folks who are bad actors we have to call them out,” Arce added. or 407-232-0202 or follow me on Twitter @BiancaJoanie

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