"If the press won't come to us, we will go to them."
Thus spake progressive activists who held a "die-in" yesterday outside of the Palm Beach Post to bring attention to the fact that the state legislature is likely to end this year's legislative session without expanding Medicaid, thus leaving thousands of struggling Floridians without access to health care.
The theatrical event was complete with a Rick Scott impersonator chopping up a check for federal funds, so he could keep on being evil to poor folks.
Thousands of working poor fall into a gap: They earn too much to qualify for health-care subsidies but not enough to buy private insurance. Like Charlene Dill, a young mom with a heart condition who could not afford her medicine and died on a customer's floor while selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door. Dill made about $9,000 a year.
With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, states had the option to expand Medicaid to help people like Dill, and would have received federal funds to do so. Rick Scott rejected the money.
Activists from yesterday's protest hoped that state legislators would magically grow spines, stand up for the working poor, and suddenly decide to refuse to pass a state budget unless Medicaid is expanded.
According to activist Hillary Keyes, the demonstration included: -- Three people dressed as grim reapers representing Gov. Rick Scott, Speaker of the House Will Weatherford, and Palm Beach County Republican Rep. Bill Hager. -- A die-in, representing the six people per day who are dying due to the blocking of Medicaid Expansion. -- People dressed as (unemployed) nurses behind yellow caution tape, unable to get to the dying. -- A large check for $52 billion, which was cut up by the three grim reapers. -- Someone dressed as a doctor with a large photograph of Charlene Dill. -- The South Florida Raging Grannies, who sang topical songs. -- And others with signs calling for "NO BUDGET WITHOUT MEDICAID EXPANSION!"
Keyes said, "Every day that Republican legislators like Will Weatherford and Bill Hager block Medicaid expansion is another day that people are dying. And Gov. Scott has done nothing to pressure them to accept it. So these deaths are blood on their hands. This is unconscionable. The money is our money, that, in addition to saving lives, would create many more health-care jobs. We are calling for all legislators to vote no on any budget that does not include Medicaid expansion."
The die-in was was put on by AWAKE Palm Beach County, a coalition representing many organizations, including Democracy for America Palm Beach County, SEIU-FPSU, Palm Beach Treasure Coast AFL-CIO, CODEPINK Women for Peace South Florida, South Florida Raging Grannies, War vs. Human Needs, and MoveOn.
By their estimate, as many as six people a day are dying without access to Medicaid and 360 have died during this legislative session.
But hope is fading: The state's $75 billion budget will likely pass this week without objection or delay from legislators, though Scott will be able to veto items. Weatherford managed to allocate $7 million for a private university -- his alma mater, Jacksonville University.
Still, AWAKE members say they'll persist and hold an encore die-in Friday at Hager's office in Boca.
The Post wrote a teensy blurb about the protest.
Email [email protected]