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    Orlando, FL


    Before Covid-19 hit Central Florida, Michael Smith scraped together a living running his own small business. He doesn’t have health insurance but has medical needs, including asthma he manages on his own: every month, he scrapes together enough cash to buy inhalers on the black market.

    If Florida expanded Medicaid, Michael would get the healthcare and prescription drugs he needs to stay healthy.

  • “I don’t have savings. I have bad credit. I honestly don’t know how I make it,” says Michael. Healthcare would free up what little money he has for food and rent.

    As a recovering addict, he also diligently attends daily recovery meetings, making it difficult to work regular hours. That’s why Michael, age 33, started buying and selling used furniture to pay his bills.

    “With COVID, people don’t call me to go into their homes. And they don’t want to buy used items,” Michael says. His business is dead. He’s trying to shift back to getting work as a freelance graphic designer.


    Either way, Michael wouldn’t have employer-based healthcare, like many Florida residents who earn a living in the gig economy or work irregular hours at low pay in the service and tourism industry. Low-income, working poor residents are often in the “coverage gap” – unable to qualify for Florida’s limited Medicaid program and too poor to qualify to purchase an Affordable Care Act health insurance policy on the federal marketplace.

    “With COVID, people don’t call me to go into their homes. And they don’t want to buy used items,” Michael says. His business is dead.

  • Florida is one of just 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, depriving residents of needed healthcare and turning away billions in federal funding. The COVID pandemic has increased the size of Florida’s Medicaid expansion-eligible population to over 1.5 million residents.
    For now, Michael is fighting to keep a roof over his head. He owes $2,500 in back rent and his landlord has given him an eviction notice.
    “I hope the government rent help goes through so I can still have a home to live in,” Michael says. “I was given a list of homeless shelters to choose from but I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
    Michael has done everything he can to get and stay sober and become economically self-sufficient. He doesn’t want to let the COVID-19 health pandemic set him back, but like so many other Florida residents, he is in critical need of assistance.

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