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Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-Florida) spoke during a Medicare for All Florida town hall meeting on Monday. Frost won Florida’s 10th Congressional District last year to become the first Gen Z member of Congress. He said he became involved with the Medicare for All movement during his time as an organizer for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I come from organizing, I’ve been doing it since I was 15,” Frost said. “The way I got to a lot of my policy positions is from the campaigns I worked on. One of Bernie Sanders’ top issues was Medicare for All. That was my first time learning about it and becoming deeply invested in it.”
Frost said he supports Medicare for All because he considers himself a participant in the fight for guarantees.
“Our country provides many guarantees. Corporations and oil companies are guaranteed subsidies. Many guarantees are given to corporations. People don’t have guarantees. We don’t have a healthcare system in this country, we have a sickness system. A system that values profit over human lives. The sales and profits of oil and energy companies mean more than the health of our people.”
Frost believes America’s for-profit healthcare system is irrational.
“When people don’t have to worry about going to the doctor and paying for (medication), there will be more productivity in this country,” he said. “There will be less crime. Every issue you care about can boil down to the material conditions of our country. To ensure that every person in America has comprehensive healthcare means we need to end the sickness system.”
Frost said he has researched a variety of universal healthcare system options, and decided Medicare for All provides the best model, particularly through House Resolution 1976.
“I looked at all plans to get to universal healthcare, but Medicare for All is the best one by far,” he said. “What is more practical than taking an already popular existing program, expanding it, and making it better? I feel like moderates should be all over this, because that sounds super practical to me. It’s about improving Medicare and making sure it covers you from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.”
Frost also discussed his sponsorship of the Survival Aid for Emergencies (SAFE) through Medicare Act, which he introduced with co-sponsor Sen. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) in July. The act would require Medicare coverage for 100 percent of the cost of home resiliency services or items the Department of Health and Human Services determines are medically necessary for an individual who is medically at risk in the event of a disaster (including extreme heat or cold, flooding, and loss of power).
The act is particularly relevant in Florida, where there is always a risk of hurricanes, Frost said.
“It directs Medicare to cover 100 percent of the cost of external battery systems for seniors. In a hurricane, when the power goes out, the most likely to die are seniors because their machines wouldn’t work. So we introduced the act so when power goes out, Medicare will cover (it), so insulin can be kept safe when the power goes out.”
Frost’s presence at the meeting was notable for Medicare for All Florida organizer Brittany Shannahan. She said the meeting had more than 60 sponsoring organizations.
“This is the most I’ve gotten for any webinar, and I’ve been doing them for four years,” Shannahan said. “More than 2.5 million Floridians do not have health insurance. The uninsured rate is 12.5 percent. Floridians are resolved to transform this healthcare system, and that’s what tonight’s town hall is all about. We’re trying to create a platform for a stronger movement for Medicare for All in Florida.”
Dr. Armen Henderson, a mental health therapist in Miami, said he has noticed that Medicare for All is growing in popularity with medical students in the state.
“These students find themselves as case managers, trying to understand how people who have insurance face loopholes in getting the things they need,” Henderson said. “Students have become radicalized and ask why we don’t have Medicare for All. Students have become ready to step up. Medicare for All is the first step amongst a radical revision of Florida.”