It has been six years since the Affordable Care Act became the law of the land. Our Florida leaders have remained steadfast in their opposition to extending coverage and access to health care for low-income working Floridians.
We are two and one-half years into full implementation of coverage provisions of the ACA. In the past couple of weeks, two new reports deliver evidence based on rigorous research that demonstrates some of the benefits that the Florida Legislature has been denying to Floridians.
Analysis of the National Health Interview Survey shows us that in states that took advantage of the coverage mechanisms for the lowest income populations, more residents were diagnosed and treated early for chronic health conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol.
Early interventions for these conditions will ward off costly and debilitating consequences in the future. Florida’s own Department of Health cites research that links low-income status to higher rates of these chronic health problems. State leadership should heed the advice of health experts and ensure access for prevention and early treatment of these potentially life-altering and costly conditions by extending coverage to low-income Floridians.
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Beyond the physical and mental health benefits of coverage that 800,000 Floridians are missing is the financial health and stability that coverage would provide. Even minimal medical bills take a substantial portion of total income for people earning low wages.
As the evidence continues to mount, Florida leadership continues to leave billions of federal dollars on the table and abandon hardworking Floridians by excluding them from physical and financial health. We can ignore the evidence no longer. There are no excuses for continued rejection of the health coverage program.
Laura Brennaman, policy and research director, Florida CHAIN, Coconut Creek