Due to Covid and the risk of exposure, we have limited office hours. The office will be open on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Florida’s Best Hope for Medicaid Expansion is Now in Congress
It’s widely known that Florida is among the last 12 states to move forward with Medicaid expansion. The debate has now moved to Congress where leaders in both the House and Senate are calling for a federal fix to the coverage gap.
Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor from Tampa, was joined by 34 House members, all from states that have refused Medicaid expansion, urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Steny Hoyer to establish a federal program to cover people in the coverage gap. The letter was followed by a press conference highlighting the need for care that over 500,000 Floridians are experiencing.
On August 9th, the Democratic Senators released their Budget Resolution Agreement Framework. The agreement calls for the $3.5 trillion in long-term investments to be fully offset by a combination of new tax revenues, health care savings, and long-term economic growth. As part of the agreement, the Finance Committee will receive an instruction that requires at least $1 billion in deficit reduction to provide flexibility for investments. The agreement instructions call for investments in:
• Paid Family and Medical Leave
• ACA expansion extension and filling the Medicaid Coverage Gap
• Expanding Medicare to include dental, vision, hearing benefits and lowering the eligibility age
• Long-term care for seniors and persons with disabilities (HCBS)
• Health equity (maternal, behavioral, and racial justice health investments)
On Aug 11th, Senate Democrats approved a budget resolution that will allow them to pass the $3.5 trillion spending plan without GOP support later this year. The budget resolution doesn’t become law, but it's the first step toward bypassing the 60 vote threshold required to pass most legislation in the Senate. Once the House and Senate approve the budget instructions, the reconciliation process begins. Democrats will try to pass the spending bill on their own as soon as late September.
What You Can Do!
• Engage & Push Priorities. Push members of Congress hard for affordable coverage, including a Medicaid direct coverage option, maternal postpartum coverage, and the Medicaid re-entry act. You can contact members of Congress with one-click, here [link removed]
• Enroll People. IT IS STILL OPEN ENROLLMENT! This is the final push through August 15 to get covered. Floridians should visit www.coveringflorida.org for help navigating the ACA Marketplace.
• Collect Stories. Help us identify and share more stories like Christina’s. Come the fall, we will continue to showcase the human side of these priorities to ensure they stay in any reconciliation package. Share your story here: [link removed]
Stay involved in the fight for healthcare in Florida by signing up for updates here: [link removed]
Linking Seniors to the Services They May Need
Seniors and their families often face challenges in meeting their daily needs, whether it is dealing with pandemic-related problems such as access to groceries and social isolation or ongoing health, housing and nutritional requirements. Fortunately, there are many agencies devoted to providing information and services to meet those needs – many of them no-cost.
The Federal Administration for Community Living is one of the best places to start. The Administration is dedicated to helping seniors and people living with disabilities remain in their communities. The Eldercare Locator – www.eldercare.acl.gov or 1-800 677-1116 – provides links to local resources. The site asks for a zip code or a city/state to make the connection. The National Area Agencies on Aging have put out a useful pamphlet describing the Eldercare Locator: www.n4a.org/files/EC-Connections-EngA-508.pdf).
There are resources to deal with specific issues. For example, the Medicare Rights Center – 1-800-333-4114 – provides free Medicare counseling and help in getting benefits. The Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development – www.hud.gov or 1-800-569-4287 – provides free or low-cost assistance for issues like reverse mortgages or evictions. The Office for Older Americans www.consumerfinance.gov/olderAmericans -- at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has resources on retirement security, protection against scammers, and financial planning. Individuals can also file complaints at the CFPB, which, since its establishment in 2021, has provided $14.4 billion in consumer relief by stopping unfair practices and getting consumers restitution.
Florida Looks to Draw Down $1.1B for Medicaid Home-Based Services for Floridians with Disabilities and Seniors
While the Governor and Republican leadership in the Florida Legislature refuse to expand Medicaid to give thousands of Floridians healthcare, they do want the extra money.
As of last month, Florida is ** officially seeking ([link removed])
an additional $1.1 billion in federal Medicaid dollars available under the American Rescue Plan over the next two years for home- and community-based services (HCBSs) that serve nearly 110,000 Floridians.
The American Rescue Plan offered states a 10% increase in the federal matching rate (FMAP) for spending on Medicaid HCBS through 2022. To access the new funds, states were required to submit an initial HCBS spending plan and narrative for CMS approval. Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) submitted proposal includes:
* $191 million – Trim a 20,000-person waiting list for enrollment in Florida’s ‘iBudget’ program, which provides Medicaid HCBS for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
* $623 million – One-time payments to businesses that provide HBCS for Medicaid clients;
* $128 million – One-time stipends to people aged 60 and older in the long-term care waiver program. About half, $63.55 million, can be used for purchases ranging from air conditioners to various technology.
According to Miriam Harmatz from the Florida Health Justice Project, while the state request addresses the 20,000-person waiting list for the iBudget program, the proposal only marginally boosts funding for the long-term care waiver program, which provides HBCS for those who qualify for nursing-home placement but choose to live at home. Approximately 60,000 are on the waiting list for the waiver program administered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs.
Overall, this is a positive step for increasing access to care in Florida, but there is a lot of work to do to make sure any plan is implemented equitably and effectively.
Our Unhinged Governor
Governor DeSantis, to get national headlines and pander to his base, has put more grievous demands on the public education system in Florida. He threatened to take away funding for school districts that required masks, for students. DeSantis is pontificating that parents should be the ones to choose whether their children wear masks at school, not the CDC or local health officials.
Right now, as kids begin to return to schools in most counties across Florida, the state is leading the nation in pediatric COVID-19 hospitalizations. In spite of that, Governor DeSantis continues to tout his dangerous and misguided executive order barring school districts from implementing the use of masks in K-12 facilities.
Thankfully, recognizing the significant danger to students and staff due to the high rate of Covid cases, a handful of school districts across the state have decided to defy DeSantis by issuing mandatory mask mandates. Unfortunately, Indian River isn’t one of them.
In response, the Governor shot back with a threat to take away the salaries of school board members and superintendents.
Many school board members and the Superintendent of Miami Dade responded with “go ahead” take away my salary. Leon County Superintendent said it best when he responded “You can’t put a pricetag on someone’s life, including my salary.” Education officials in our state have had enough and are fighting back!
The White House suggested they may step in to pay the lost salaries if DeSantis does take them away. You can read about that here: ** [link removed] ([link removed])
In Florida, the Democratic minority in the Senate issued a statement indicating they intended to start a Go Fund Me campaign for any school board member or superintendent who lost their salary. You can read that here: ** [link removed] ([link removed])
Governor DeSantis is clearly unhinged and dangerous to the well-being of students and school staff. Governor DeSantis is knowingly playing politics with the Trump base at the extreme danger to our citizens—children, seniors and healthy adults, alike. He is actively fundraising in Michigan and other states for his campaign, not even focusing on Florida’s out-of-control COVID numbers. What’s more, he is so out of it when it comes to the day-to-day governing of the state, he was unaware that our Health Department requested and has received 200 ventilators and 100 other breathing devices from the Biden Administration. State government officials know the crisis we are in, just not our Governor who is risking Floridians lives on a daily basis. We must work diligently and hard to ensure he isn’t re-elected.
Women’s Suffrage Video Premier
The Indian River County Historical Society is hosting a Women’s Suffrage Video Premier. See the flyer for more details.
If we are going to be successful in 2022, we need to ensure that our organization is strong.
If you are not interested in being a Precinct Captain, but still want to be involved, the following volunteer positions are available.
Associate Precinct Captain
A Special Category of Volunteers who wish to help in a substantial way but are not willing to take on the responsibilities of Precinct Captain can be Associate PC’s. Associates might take on designated tasks such as forming a street team or a condominium building team. They may help the Precinct Captain on projects or tasks.
These tasks can be done without making in person contact.
Precinct Data Captain
• Collect and manage all precinct data for the team: precinct voter lists, unregistered voters and voter contact data
• Help create call and canvassing lists for team activities in collaboration with the Data Team
• Collect precinct data regularly
Volunteer Recruitment Captain
• Recruit precinct volunteers
• Match and connect volunteers with roles that fit their skills
These tasks can be done without making in person contact.
Neighborhood Captain, Gated Community Captain & Building Captain
Residents of restricted access communities can contact voters from the inside, where the Precinct Team cannot go. Neighborhood Captains contact voters in a particular neighborhood, condo, gated community, directed by their Precinct Captains.
These tasks can be done without making in person contact.
Volunteers are an essential part of the IRC DEC grassroots efforts to get-out-the vote and help in a number of ways including, but not limited to:
• Phone Calling: Calling Democratic to inform them about upcoming elections, help them change their voter registration, if needed, let them know how they can request vote by mail ballots, information about volunteer opportunities, etc.
• Writing letters and/or Postcards: Reminding voters about upcoming elections, that they can vote by mail, need to register, etc.
• Involved in Community Outreach: Introducing the IRC DEC to possible community partners/volunteers. (This can be done without making in person contact.)
• Assisting with Communications: Helping with social media, website, newsletter and other communications needs.
• Fundraising: Helping the IRC DEC raise funds to support electing Democrats. (This can be done without making in person contact.)
We See It All: Liberty and Justice in an Age of Perpetual Serveillance by Jon Fasman is the next Book Group selection. The virtual meeting will start at 2:00 pm on August 27th. If you are not a Book Group member and would like to attend please contact Rita Milelli at ** [email protected] (mailto:[email protected])
Tuesday, August 17, 2021
8:30 a.m. – Vero Beach City Council
For agenda and meeting information go to ** [link removed] ([link removed])
9:00 a.m. – IRC County Commission
For agenda and meeting information go to
** [link removed] ([link removed])
7:00 p.m. - Fellsmere City Council
For agenda and meeting information go to ** www.cityoffellsmere.org/citycouncil ([link removed])
As of August 11^th, Indian River County has 15,477 confirmed cases and 306 deaths. Florida has 140,410 new cases in the last 7 days. We are living in one of the top 5 worst states in the country. Please continue to wear your mask and take necessary precautions.
The CDC has advised that even if you are vaccinated, you should wear a mask indoors.
You can search for vaccination locations and details by clicking here:
Our mailing address is:
Democratic Executive Committee of Indian River County
2345 14th Ave.
Vero Beach, FL 32960
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