FROM THE PAGES OF ORLANDO WEEKLY ON WMFE: Billy Manes on Charlene Dill and the deaths caused by no Medicaid Expansion


This week, our cover story about the death of a 32-year-old mother thanks to Republicans not expanding Medicaid made national news. Here's a segment we recorded for WMFE about the story. Listen here or below, and read along if you'd like.

Even as Democrats celebrate and Republicans pick up their jaws in response to last week’s revelation that the Affordable Care Act is surpassing expectations, picking up seven million enrollees as of March 31, there remains a cold reality in the fine print that’s playing politics with the lives of millions. When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states could opt out of expanding their Medicaid programs, thereby allowing conservatives to continue their bootstraps mantra in the face of the kind of poverty most of them have never known, a pronounced gap in health care coverage was created. The working poor would not be covered, and, more shockingly, up to 17,000 people nationally and 2,000 people in the state of Florida could die annually as a result.

Central Floridian Charlene Dill died on March 21. She was the mother of three, estranged from her husband, booted off Medicaid nonetheless because she couldn’t afford a divorce. Dill suffered from a heart condition throughout her three pregnancies, had crowdsourced medications to get her by as recently as last fall, and died while trying to sell a vacuum cleaner in a stranger’s house – that was her third job. Even her funeral was funded with a go-fund-me website. The tragedy could easily have been avoided had the Florida legislature seen beyond its idiot base and accepted the $51 billion offered by the federal government to expand Medicaid. If that had happened, Dill could now be celebrating control of her own healthcare and enjoying life with her family, however hard the struggle. This isn’t about bootstraps, it’s about abandonment.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.