Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
To the tune of the Negro spiritual "Wade in the Water," protesters in Orlando staged a die-in outside U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's office Wednesday to demand he vote against the Republican health care bill that would leave 22 million people
uninsured by 2026.
Senate GOP leaders wanted to pass a repeal of the Affordable Care Act earlier this week but were unsuccessful because they lacked votes. The Washington Post
reports Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to get a revised version of the bill to the Congressional Budget Office by Friday for a vote as soon as possible.
Alice Laguerre, of Orlando, says Medicaid pays for her hospital bills, doctor bills and the rides to get treatment for her diabetes and congenital heart disease. She lives in subsidized housing and doesn't make enough to pay for the walker she's currently sitting on due to all her other bills.
"They're not taking care of us, they're just taking from us," she says. "If they take away Medicaid, I won't be taking my medicine for my diabetes and heart disease. I'm dead."
Laguerre was one of about 60 people who led a funeral procession from Orlando City Hall to Rubio's downtown office. The public office is in a private building at 201 S. Orange Ave. Earlier, disability rights activists with ADAPT tried to go into the building to Rubio's office but were stopped by security. ADAPT organizers
were arrested recently for staging sit-ins in the offices of members of Congress over the GOP health care bill.
"We were told that we absolutely could not come in, that we couldn't go anywhere inside the buildings, that we need to make an appointment," Ericka Jones says.
Security and representatives for the building would not comment on the incident, but on the building's glass doors, a plastered paper notice says only guests and bank customers are allowed inside. Jones says an aide from Rubio's office did come outside to speak with them and had a constituent services representative speak with them, though she says the office is not picking up her calls. The ADAPT activists say they want Florida's junior senator to make a public statement supporting Medicaid and agreeing to vote against the Republican health care bill.
"People will die," she says. "If they don't die, they'll end up in nursing facilities or institutions, which often make people feel like they want to die. They aren't good places and Florida has some of the worst nursing facilities in the country."
Carol Jones, no relation to Ericka Jones, also tried to go into Rubio's office with her husband, who is a disabled veteran. She can't get a job right now because she's his only caregiver but can't get Medicaid through the state of Florida because she says Republican leaders refused to expand the program.
"I had paid into Medicaid in New York, just like everyone else employed," she says. "If the state of Florida does not want to be involved in insuring someone like myself, I would like them to give me a check reimbursing me for the money they took from me all these years so that I could get my own health insurance. Otherwise, all we can say is that our government is made up of a bunch of damn thieves. You're stealing our money."
Orlando organizers say the health care of more than 4.3 million Floridians is on the line.
"The Republican repeal plan does not provide for the health and well-being of a majority of Americans," For Florida's Future says in a statement. "Instead, it will result in higher costs for less coverage, gut key protections for women and people with pre-existing conditions, impose an unfair 'age tax' for older Floridians, and cripple the ability of Medicaid to provide full care to veterans, people with disabilities, low-income seniors and others."