Deltona man running out of oxygen



DELTONA, Fla. - A Deltona man who needs oxygen treatment to survive is now left with little hope after Florida lawmakers rejected expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Ricardo Rios is one of the more than one million Floridians who likely could have gained coverage under the expansion.

He is now expected to run out of oxygen in a week.

The ability to breathe is one of the most basic needs of life, but Rios is not sure when his ability will be taken away.

Rios said he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

The company that supplies his oxygen treatment could take away the machines at any moment.

Rios has not been able to pay the company for months.

All of the oxygen bottles are already empty. Rios is down to one last oxygen bottle. It is full right now, but is only enough to last one week.

"I'm very scared," said Rios.

His oxygen costs $700 a month, but his Medicaid deductible is $900 a month.

"They're my lifeline," Rios said.

His only income is $1,100 in Social Security.

There are a lot of people out there who don't need the help, but the people who do need the help, they should really help them," Rios said.

Larry Olness with United Way Community Services said the story is too common.

"Unfortunately the story you've shared with me is a story we hear day after day after day," Olness said.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Senate supported a plan to accept $51 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid.

Republicans in the Florida House rejected the expansion, concerned about the growing national deficit.

"It's our money that's gone to Washington that they won't take back. How can you do that?" Olness said.

Channel 9 contacted DCF on his behalf, but the agency said case workers have done all they can.

Medicaid is checking on the situation and so is the United Way.

"I wish they could help me out, I'd really appreciate that," Rios said.

Scott could call for a special session to reconsider expanding Medicaid.

Republican Sen. Andy Gardiner of Orlando said he would support that.