Florida should expand Medicaid program

06/23/2014 6:43 PM

06/23/2014 6:44 PM

On June 10, Cedernier, a 59-year-old native of Haiti, was pronounced dead. His diagnosis? Cancer of the colon. For weeks, Cedernier complained to friends and family of abdominal pain and constipation.

He reluctantly went to the emergency department, where he was told of his condition.

Two weeks later, he was dead.

Cedernier’s story is similar to thousands of Florida’s working poor who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and make too little to afford traditional insurance.

Last year, Florida opted out of Medicaid expansion, which left about 1 million Floridians without any option for healthcare besides emergency rooms.

The Affordable Care Act seeks expanded access to health insurance for uninsured Americans. The law’s architects envisioned an expansion of Medicaid in each state to cover low-income adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which in 2013 was $15,856 for an individual or $26,951 for a family of three in 2013.

The Supreme Court upheld the law as constitutional, but mandatory Medicaid expansion was struck down, leaving it to state legislatures to decide to offer the joint program.

So far, 23 states have refused to expand Medicaid.

That includes Texas and Florida, which rejected $51 billion from the federal government to overhaul its Medicaid program to include people who work, but do not make enough money to qualify for the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies.

As election season approaches, it’s important that we keep Cedernier at the forefront of our minds.

We should demand that the Florida Legislature make decisions not based on simple political ideologies, but rather in the best interest of all constituents.

Florida must opt in to Medicaid expansion.

Manoucheka Thermitus, associate administrator/director of business development, Tenet Healthcare North Shore Medical Center, Miami

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