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In Tallahassee, Mayor Alvin Brown calls on statehouse to expand health care

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Just three weeks before a May 19 runoff election that will decide whether the incumbent Jacksonville mayor is retained or replaced by the hard-charging Republican campaign of former state Republican Chair Lenny Curry, Mayor Alvin Brown came up to the fourth floor of the Capitol — where the magic happens — to call on the House to take action in favor of expanding healthcare coverage.

In remarks that were at times drowned out by the ambient bustle of legislative business, Brown made a simple appeal to House leadership: expand Medicaid, or at the very least, work out a deal with the Senate to accept federal Low Income Pool money.

“I’ve come here to ask that the Legislature do the right thing and help draw down the $95 million that would come to Northeast Florida’s only level 1 tramua center alone,” Brown implored, referring to Jacksonville’s branch of UF’s Shands Hospital

“When you have the opportunity to open up this amount of federal dollars for health expansion, how can you turn that down? We can’t,” inveighed Democratic leader-designate state Rep. Mia Jones. 

Brown’s visit to Tallahassee comes following a less opportune event related to health care in the news recently — former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney‘s endorsement of Lenny Curry. Delaney, thought to be a consensus figure key to the city’s many swing voters, chose to back Curry over Brown, citing mismanagement of the very UF Health that Brown mentioned in his appeal.

“Mayor Brown has a lot of gifts,” Delaney mused, but “management is not among those.” He added that on the pressing issues, a mayor has “gotta do something,” and that inaction is tantamount to “pandering.”

One wonders what Delaney would have made of today’s presser, located directly between the two chambers of the Legislature now emtangled in a seemingly endless battle of wills.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at

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