For the second week of the 2023 Florida Legislative Session, Florida Voices for Health members from the grassroots Health Care for Florida coalition joined lawmakers in the capitol to share more about our advocacy work and policy priorities. We specifically centered our conversations on HB 511/SB 1098 - Closing the Coverage Gap, HB 1461/SB 984 - the Comprehensive Adult Dental Benefit bill, and SB 898 - Allow the Agency for Persons with Disabilities to Participate in the Budget Estimating Conference. )n total, our storytellers attended 11 meetings across both days between officials and staff. We were also able to follow up on last week’s meetings, completing drop in visits to share back thank you notes and pledging our continued support in this fight.
In the evening of our first night, Florida Voices for Health had the privilege of joining a group of 15+ Catalyst Miami volunteers visiting Tallahassee as part of the annual Catalyst to the Capitol campaign. Florida Voices for Health presented alongside our partners at Florida For All on the health-related legislative priorities to review with policymakers this session at the Florida People’s Advocacy Center. On day two, not only was our cohort able to join Catalyst Miami volunteers in a session to discuss our shared policy priorities with elected officials and highlight the lived experiences of storytellers in the healthcare coverage gap and on the disabilities waitlist, but we were able to attend a committee hearing and listen to our coalition members and community partners share their testimonies in front of elected officials.
One quote shared with us by Jackson Oberlink of Florida For All that really stood out this trip was:
“We, as advocates for everyday people, our communities, and our fundamental rights, are taking on dragons when we walk these halls.”
Although we were largely met with kindness, excitement, and commitment throughout the building, finding comradery even in hallways as our team encountered friendly legislators in elevators and around corners, we still found the maze-like capitol less accessible for our team member who uses a wheelchair than we’d expect and were disappointed by the number of those we met who had never heard of the issues we brought to their attention. Although we’re greatly heartened by the conversations and momentum on these issues we’ve found in our meetings, it also highlighted for us the deep and fundamental importance of our campaign to Impact the Legislation, building awareness about the critical health access issues facing Floridians as we build relationships.
The coalition will be in Tallahassee and meeting legislators in-district for each of the next 3 weeks. If you’d like to participate, please fill out this form.
Here are some pictures from Week 2 (March 14th & 15th)