As submitted to The Huffington Post 4/16/09
*Author’s note. The best way to get legislation passed is to be in constant touch with our legislators. Here in Orlando we have two freshmen legislators who are committed to change and the House leadership is letting them do things that freshmen are not supposed to attempt. I’ll be reporting on them frequently as they are the best thing to happen to Orange County and environs in a long time. I sincerely hope my editors give me latitude. Remember this-If we truly want the change we seek we must actively work for it. We can’t just leave it to our elected politicians.
What is your senator or representative doing during this legislative session break? In Central Florida freshmen Representatives Alan Grayson and Suzanne Kosmas are meeting with many civic and public interest groups holding town hall meetings on several legislative issues. Bill Nelson is out of the country with other members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee. Grayson and Kosmas are both on tight schedules meeting with several groups on any given day. Kosmas has the more difficult district which runs from Daytona Beach to the north and just up to Cape Canaveral to the southeast and into Orlando to the west. Her district includes parts of Orange, Brevard, Volusia and Seminole counties. Geographically it is huge and it keeps her very busy.
Tuesday evening, April 14 at 6:30 PM, there was a town hall meeting regarding the Health Care crisis at the Englewood Community Center in Orlando. Kosmas had other commitments, but her office representative was there. The meeting was organized through the efforts of ACORN and the Service Employees International Union Florida, both entities having a vested interest in Universal Health Care. The Moderator of the evening was Van E. Church, Political Director of SEIU. The panel consisted of Maggie DeVane who is on the staff of Congresswoman Kosmas, Orange County Commissioner Bill Segal, Barkari Burns, CEO of Healthcare for the Homeless and Congressman Alan Grayson.
The only two members of the panel to speak at length were Burns and Grayson. Grayson told the assembled of his childhood. His parents were teachers and sometimes were not working if the union was on strike. Health care was important because he needed expensive medication as a child, and there were times when getting his medication was a problem. He is a staunch advocate for affordable health care and is supporting the Obama Administration plan. Burns operates health care facilities for homeless people as well as the uninsured and destitute. He operates several facilities in the area and they are available on a walk-in basis.
The consensus of the panel was that Universal Health Care is vital for helping to get the economy under control by significantly reducing costs and unnecessary duplications of effort. They all agreed that health care today is a necessity and not a luxury; it is no longer a commodity that can be operated for a profit.
Guest speakers told of their problems with the current system and the difficulty of getting Medicaid for their families, leading to the death of one child due to the lack of proper prescription medications. Grayson predicted that the proposed bill will pass the House of Representatives , and eventually will pass the Senate sometime later in the year, although there will be a lot of arm twisting and wheeling-and-dealing involved.
The meeting concluded and Grayson, DeVane and Segal all had other meetings to go to and they were all running a little late. There will be many more town hall meetings and our freshmen representatives aren’t going to let any grass grow under their feet.