Letters to the Editor

Affordable healthcare a must in Florida

The debate about what to do with the Affordable Care Act feels overwhelming to a lot of people. Repeal. Don’t repeal. Replace. With what?

What does all this uncertainty mean to us in Florida? As healthcare professionals at Florida’s largest public hospital — Jackson Health System — I and many of my colleagues are frankly terrified by the possibilities.

Dr. Dave Woolsey, a 30-year veteran of Jackson’s ER, said that before the ACA, patients with serious or chronic conditions had little ability to pay for the care to manage their health.

In the few years we’ve had a system to provide quality, affordable healthcare to millions of Americans, this work in progress has improved all of our lives. Not without glitches, of course.

Florida, particularly South Florida, has among the highest number of ACA enrollees in the nation. More than two million people here could lose coverage. Not only that, we are perilously close to destabilizing our entire healthcare safety net. The Affordable Care Act is a well-evidenced strategy to bring down the costs of healthcare by shifting the emphasis to access and prevention, rather than sick care.

For hospitals like Jackson, what happens when thousands of people who managed their conditions with primary care physicians are suddenly forced to use the emergency rooms to manage only the crisis points? We will be a sicker community and local taxpayers will foot the bill.

Meanwhile, our Governor is gleefully crowing over our destabilized healthcare system. He wants Medicaid block grants, which just shifts control from the federal to state governments and will very likely lead to less access and much lower quality of care.

In the richest country on earth, quality affordable healthcare should be a basic human right, not a privilege reserved for the fortunate few.

Martha Baker, RN, president, SEIU Local 1991, Miami