Democrats from the White House to Florida are continuing to go after Sen. Rick Scott and his “11-point plan to rescue America,” which proposes a five-year review of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and would require the poorest Americans to pay taxes.
Noting they are “real people, not bargaining chips,” members of the Florida Democratic Disability Caucus on Thursday joined the chorus of critics that has also included President Joe Biden.
According to the group’s website, the Florida Democratic Disability Caucus works with allies within the Florida Democratic Party to ensure all activities and venues are accessible to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, as well as those with mobility issues.
Florida Democratic Disability Caucus Chair Karen Clay said there are nearly 3 million people in Florida who identify as having a disability. And by 2026, she said, Florida will have the highest percentage of elderly residents in the nation.
“And yet Rick Scott is in favor of sunsetting the programs that millions of Floridians need most,” said Clay, who has been a caregiver in Florida for 49 years.
Disability caucus member and Seminole County resident Alison Holmes said she was distressed after hearing about Scott’s desire to have everybody pay taxes because people should have “skin in the game.”
“I just thought, ‘He just has no clue.’ This isn’t a game. This is our lives we are talking about,” Holmes said during a press conference Thursday. “It’s so distressing they don’t understand what we go through each and every day.”
Holmes is the primary caretaker of her son, J.J. Holmes, who has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. He communicates with an assistive technology app on his IPAD and types what he wants to say with his nose.
J.J. Holmes has been on a waitlist for the Medicaid iBudget Waiver program for 15 years. The program provides home- and community-based services to people with developmental and intellectual disabilities so they can live in the community and not require institutionalization.
Alison Holmes does not earn enough to purchase health insurance on the federal health care exchange, where insurance policies are subsidized. And because Florida has not expanded Medicaid to low-income adults, she doesn’t qualify for Medicaid benefits. She is one of about 800,000 people in Florida in the “coverage gap.”
“I’ve given up on Medicaid. It doesn’t look like it will ever be expanded in Florida,” she said. “I just don’t think it occurs to Rick Scott, Marco Rubio, Mitch McConnell or any of the other GOP, that people like me and my family, and many others, that we rely on these services that we paid into and have built our retirement plans on.”
J.J. Holmes said he has worried over his lifetime about whether he’ll ever have a girlfriend, or attend college. He also said he worries whether an employer “will want to hire someone like me.”
Now, he said, he worries more about his future.
“I want my mom to be healthy because I really, really, love her,” he said. “But, also, I want her to be healthy so I can stay living at home. I don’t want to be forced to live in a state-run institution.”
Scott, in a break from other Republican leaders, released his detailed plan ahead of this year’s elections. The plan has become a frequent talking point from Democrats trying to gain traction in a political environment where inflation and supply chain problems have soured voters on them.
Democrats aren’t the only ones blasting Scott for the proposal though. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell denounced it soon after its introduction during a news conference at the Capitol that Scott attended.
“Now let me tell you what will not be part of our agenda,” McConnell said at the time. “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people, and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years. That will not be part of a Republican Senate majority agenda.”
Scott has defended the plan, but the Democratic National Committee has launched digital ads which will run on Facebook and target Florida senior citizens. The campaign aims to make older voters aware of provisions in Scott’s plan.
For her part, Alison Holmes said she wants to extend an invitation to Sen. Scott, a billionaire turned politician, and Sen. Rubio, who has been an elected official throughout his life. It should be noted that Rubio, while a Republican, has not explicitly embraced Scott’s plan.
“Come into our lives. I just want to convince them this is how real Americans live. Regular Americans don’t fly around in private planes; we don’t enjoy access to Cadillac health care coverage. We live hand to mouth on a lot of occasions.”