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Florida Hospital employees travel to Tallahassee for health care expansion hearings

Dozens of Florida Hospital employees boarded a bus early Thursday to make their voices heard in the debate over health care expansion in Tallahassee.

The daylong bus trip came as state lawmakers are debating whether to expand coverage to Florida’s 800,000 uninsured residents.

More than thirty employees from departments including nursing, finance and patient advocacy met with state Reps. Allan Williams, Rene Plasencia and Mia Jones to stress their support for health-care expansion.

The visit allowed employees to share their personal stories of caring for uninsured patients.

"Every day I see people come through the emergency room that are underinsured or uninsured. It breaks my heart,” said Chantal Parzygnat, an Emergency Department social worker at Florida Hospital Altamonte. “So many times they are repeat patients because they can't receive specialty care in the community. We really need something to be in place on a much bigger level."

The Tallahassee trip comes a day after Florida Hospital President and CEO Lars Houmann spoke out about the benefits of expanding coverage to the state’s 800,000 people without health insurance.

“This is the most compassionate, sustainable and fiscally prudent approach to addressing the needs of the state’s uninsured population,” Houmann said.

He added that without expansion, the costs of caring for the uninsured will continue to be a burden for all Floridians.

“Even if you have insurance you are affected,” Houmann said. “Medical bills go up to cover the high cost of care for the uninsured, which translates into higher premiums, higher deductibles and higher co-pays.”