From Our Inbox

Inside senators’ Medicaid mailbag

They sound angry, disappointed and embarrassed.

But they still have hope.

Floridians are writing to their legislators to tell them how they blew it by ending a regular session with no budget, and without addressing the state’s long-term health care needs.

Their clicking keyboards reflect their frustration.

“I would hope that you legislators can get your act together,” Larry Risk of Lake Placid wrote to Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring. “Pass a budget bill and expand Medicaid for the good of the state of Florida.”

The Tampa Bay Times requested random constituent mail sent to five Republican senators about Medicaid expansion; the loss of money from LIP, the federal low-income pool, to hospitals; and the unresolved budget. In addition to Grimsley, they were Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, Rob Bradley of Fleming Island, Wilton Simpson of Trilby and John Legg of Trinity.

“I oppose Medicaid expansion,” Doug Vessel of Tampa told Legg. “I believe Medicaid traps people in poverty and makes it harder for them to make their way into the middle class. Medicaid expansion will weaken our nation’s economy.”

Howard and Gem Grogan of Lake Wales, retirees and registered Democrats, pleaded with Grimsley to hold fast on health care expansion.

“Please do not cave in to opposition put forth by the governor and state House,” they wrote.“Thank you for looking out for the 800,000 Floridians in need of health care coverage.”

“I agree with Rick Scott,” E. Rae Solomon told Grimsley. “The president and federal government will not follow through on any promises!”

Ed Goebel of St. Petersburg told Brandes he does not like Gov. Scott’s “sound bite” solutions to complex problems.

“While the Republican Senate was trying to find workable solutions to the inevitable end of LIP money,” Goebel wrote, attaching a story from the Tampa Tribune. “Rick Scott was preparing for the coming financial crush by preparing sound bite solutions, to make it look to low-information voters that he did not cause this funding problem.”

Richard Brugge of Tampa, calling himself a conservatively minded independent voter, told Legg he favors the Senate’s modified Medicaid expansion plan.

“The early adjournment by the House is sickening to me,” Brugge wrote. “The House leadership has gone astray on a misguided ideological journey that is a disservice to the people of Florida.”

Lindsay Helms of Jacksonville told senators that she’s worried that UF Health-Jacksonville stands to lose $95 million in low-income pool money.

“Were UF Health to close, 5,500 people would lose their jobs,” Helms wrote.“People would die.”

The situation in Tallahassee is tense and unresolved at the moment, but it’s not quite that dire.

“I am very disappointed that the Senate was unable to accomplish the mission of formalizing a state budget during the regular session,” Keith Gaston wrote to Bradley, who represents Alachua, Bradford and Clay counties.

Gaston’s email signature includes a quote from the Bible — Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Words for lawmakers to consider as they prepare to go back to work June 1.

Steve Bousquet is the Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee Bureau chief. Contact him at bousquet@tampabay.com.

c. 2015 Tampa Bay Times

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