Angered by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature's refusal to consider expanding Medicaid during its 2016 session, uninsured millennial activists are threatening to exact revenge at the ballot box.
The activists, who belong to the recently-formed Young Invincibles group, visited Tallahassee at the midpoint of the two-month legislative session to advocate for stalled legislation that would compel the state to accept $51 billion in federal funding. The money would cover most of the cost of adding 800,000 low-income uninsured Floridians to the state's Medicaid roll.
"This issue is not unique to a few but to many," said Isabel Betancourt, who is one of an estimated 250,000 Floridians between the ages of 18-34 who fall into the so-called 'coverage gap', making too much income to qualify for Medicaid as it currently exists, yet too little to afford private coverage.
"Leave us neglected for too long and together our voices will find those who look out for our best interests at the polls," Betancourt warned, pointing to robust youth turnout in the Iowa and New Hampshire presidential nominating contests as a sign of millennials' growing political clout.
Legislative leaders, however, have little appetite to broach the topic. For three years running, the conservative Florida House has opposed Medicaid expansion, most recently allowing the 2015 legislative session to melt down over the issue. Despite what had been an aggressive effort by Senate Republicans to pass expansion, they, too, are uninterested in revisiting the issue this year.
"We're having a good time and we will finish strong," Senate President Andy Gardiner (R-Orlando) said of a session that so far has been marked by a cross-rotunda camaraderie which was virtually non-existent last year.
(This report was originaed by Troy Kinsey, Central Florida 13.)