© 2024 WFSU Public Media
WFSU News · Tallahassee · Panama City · Thomasville
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Medical Union Protestors Not "Diss-Sueded" By Corcoran's "Gucci" Comments Or Scott's Medicaid Stance

Matthew Seeger

Representative Richard Corcoran may be putting his foot in his mouth after calling proponents of Medicaid expansion “Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interests.” Medical professionals from South Florida marched heel-toe to the capitol, and as Matthew Seeger reports, they’re not going to buckle to legislative tongue-lashing.

State Democrats are more than a little annoyed with what they say is a “Washington-style sequester” during this year’s session. House Minority Leader Mark Pafford (D- West Palm Beach) put it best in a press availability meeting Thursday morning.

“I’m sorry I’m upset, Mia, but it’s been fifteen days and this house has done nothing,” Pafford said to Rep. Mia Jones (D- Jacksonville).

What’s got them so steamed is the lack of movement on Medicaid expansion- one of the Democrats’ top priorities. The senate wants expansion, but house leaders are opposed. For a while, it seemed as if Florida Governor Rick Scott was on board… until Scott flipped his position, causing a gash in the plans of Team Medicaid.

As if that wound wasn’t already painful enough, Rep. Richard Corcoran (R- Land O’ Lakes) brought a salt-shaker during a recent speech against the senate’s plan:

“All the Gucci-loafing, shoe-wearing special interest powers-that-be that are sitting in that hallway. Every single one of ‘em wants Medicaid expansion, none of them want the other stuff. Go to war with us! And if it costs me my political career or yours, so be it,” Corcoran said.

And while Corcoran meant that as a call to action for his fellow legislators, others took it as a call to arms against him.

Members of the SEIU Local 1991, a medical worker’s union in Miami Gardens, stormed the capitol in purple scrubs to heed the invitation. SEIU 1991 President, Martha Baker, led her fellow caretakers to the Capitol’s fourth floor rotunda with a very simple message for lawmakers like Corcoran:

“We’ve got about a hundred nurses and healthcare workers and doctors up here today, to talk to our elected officials about Medicaid expansion. The Senate has supported it, it’s Corcoran and the House leadership that has said they’re not even going to talk about it,” Baker says.

The members of SEIU Local 1991 had a unique response to Corcoran’s “Gucci-loafing” comments: shoes.

Ordinary tennis shoes, piled onto Corcoran’s desk to show him what “special interests actually wear, with signs that read “Nurses Wear Sas, Not Gucci” and “Flip Flop, Scott” tucked around the edges of the pile.

She hopes this makes the message from medical professionals like herself crystal clear.

“So we’re hoping we can do something to push on Rick Scott to flip back one more time. We’re hoping Corcoran and the House will quit being so obstinate about taking these health care dollars from the Feds and let these Floridians be insured,” Baker says.

Baker says she’s also bewildered that Governor Scott is suing the Federal Government over a separate program for hospitals, the Low Income Pool.

There are only two weeks left in the Legislative Session, and the healthcare gap between the two chambers is sending session into overtime.

Matthew Seeger began his work in radio in 2012, during an internship he took with WUSF in Tampa. He went on to volunteer at 89.7 FM “The Voice” for several years as a news anchor and production assistant. He began working with the WFSU news team in January of 2015. In addition to reporting the news, Matt is a voice actor, having recorded and produced several creative audio pieces, as well as his own series for V89’s Vox Populi program called “Tales from Hell Creek,”-- a series of slice-of-life vignettes about dinosaurs.