Op-Ed

Florida should adopt a Medicare-for-all health care plan

Like many other Floridians, the growing health care crisis has touched my life personally. While watching my mother battle dementia, my brother and I also witnessed the heavy financial burdens of this debilitating disease.

Seven years before her passing, my mother was diagnosed with dementia, and we spent much time managing her affairs and trying to lessen her discomfort. She spent the final moments of her life in a state of constant pain and severe anxiety. It was difficult for us to watch. Like so many families with similar stories, Medicare coverage was the saving grace. Like so many of us, my mom had paid into the Medicare program, and it was the primary source to cover a majority of her healthcare needs. Even with that, mom paid heavily for ancillary health care services.

From caregivers, to senior homes, to basic medication, my brother and I had to manage mom’s expenses as she lived out the final years of her life. But my mom’s story is filled with silver linings, because she had a family support system.

We know that too many people in our community, through no fault of their own, face far worse circumstances. As the Ranking Democratic member of the Health Care Appropriations Committee in the Florida House of Representatives, I hear these heartbreaking stores about our broken healthcare system every day.

There are many Floridians who struggle to pay for their high-priced prescription drugs; doctors who experience the financial stress of managing their medical practices; Floridians who decline or are denied lifesaving treatments due to cost; families who cannot afford out-of-pocket expenses required by private health insurance companies; and family members who have to quit their jobs to act as caregivers.

These are the nightmares. In the world’s wealthiest country and five decades after the Great Society movement, I believe Floridians deserve more and we absolutely have the ability to fix our health care problems. Nationally, Obamacare was a huge step forward but it is not enough. It is time for our country to move to a Medicare-for-All healthcare system.

I stand with my Senate sponsor, Senator Victor Torres, and the Legislative Progressive Caucus to say, “Enough is enough.” Together, we are introducing HB1383 and SB1872 creating the “Healthy Florida Program.” This program will place Florida at the forefront in terms of health care policy and will require the state to adopt a Medicare-for-All healthcare system. The bills establish, in part, the following:

▪  Medical coverage for every resident in the state without requiring any premium, copayment, coinsurance, deductible and any other form of cost sharing for all covered benefits,

▪  Safeguards to address the high cost of prescription drugs and ensure they are affordable for patients, including prohibiting providers from charging any more than an established and scheduled amount,

▪  A requirement that the state government develop a comprehensive revenue plan, taking into consideration anticipated federal revenue available for the program, and

▪  The creation of a Healthy Florida Trust Fund to hold all state revenues deemed necessary for the program.

Under this legislation, all residents of this state will have the right to health care. This isn’t just the morally right thing to do, but it is the financially responsible thing to do. As a Certified Public Accountant for over 30 years, it’s clear to me that our health care costs are out of control. I believe that the fiscally responsible solution is to have a healthcare system that is not driven by profits, but a system that is driven by the premise that affordable health care is a right for all Americans. Everyone in this state deserves the right of basic health care and we will ensure this is a reality by adopting a Medicare-for-All healthcare system in the state of Florida.

David Richardson is the State Representative for District 113 and a Democratic candidate for Congressional District 27.

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