TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The grief of a St. Petersburg woman propels her to push for expanded Medicaid health coverage for uninsured Floridians.
Paula Witthaus was at the state Capitol on Wednesday, trying to meet with lawmakers and persuade them to support an expansion of Medicaid.
She said her longtime partner lost his job and health insurance when he got sick. Then as a self-paying patient, Witthaus said he could not get the treatment he needed at the hospital and died. She believes he could have lived if he'd received the proper medical care.
Now Witthaus spreads the message that expanding Medicaid will save lives.
"In our grief and our anger, we just could not understand how a man that paid into the system all his life through payroll deductions could not drink from the well to which he contributed."
Right now, the Florida House and Senate are at a standoff over health insurance.
The Senate wants to accept billions of federal dollars to expand health coverage to a million Floridians, while the House wants to reject the federal cash and use state money to cover an extra 115,000 low-income disabled adults and those with children.
Witthaus brought her message to lawmakers and hoped to show that working people would benefit from Medicaid expansion.
"They're not welfare queens. They're not people trying to suck off the system. They're merely people trying to survive in a world where the free market, if it's allowed to control our health care, if you can't pay, you don't play."