ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — State Rep. Anna Eskamani joined a consortium of community activists outside the Orange County administration building Thursday to call on county leaders to wipe away residents’ medical debt.
The community members, led by Central Florida Jobs with Justice, said Orange County had millions of dollars in unspent American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that could be allocated.
Data from organizations that track medical debt showed $8.7 million in ARPA funding would zero out the debt of the 250,000 Orange County families who were struggling under it, they claimed. They said it would primarily impact low- and middle-income families, particularly in the tourism industry.
Their calls began in 2021 and have continued as economic uncertainty grew over the past two years. They held their press conference Thursday to align with the commissioners’ vote to pass the county’s annual budget.
They said communities like Toledo, Ohio have taken this step.
“They have the ability,” Sam Delgado said. “We’re just asking them to sit and meet with us.”
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings addressed the group before a vote was held. He said all of the county’s ARPA funding was allocated in last year’s budget, but if it continued to be unspent, commissioners would take another look at the topic.
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