Magic Johnson joins Central Florida fight for equal health care, affordable housing

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Pro basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson paid a visit to Orlando Wednesday to tackle two serious issues for a growing number of central Floridians: a lack of access to equal health care and housing.


“We’re going to hear how we can all work together, because it’s going to take everybody in the room,” said Johnson, ambassador of Simply Healthcare, a progressive health care initiative.

The mission aims to eliminate inequities in health care by also preventing homelessness.

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“We know that the challenges that face us with the housing crisis in Florida are enormous,” said Chris Durrance with Simply Healthcare. “They are very, very big.”

Studies have long identified a direct correlation between housing instability and increased medical and behavioral health problems, with communities of color among those who suffer the most.

Wednesday’s panel discussion of industry experts looked at how communities can invest and work together to improve the critical connection from care coordination to partnering with homeless crisis response systems.

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For Johnson, the efforts just continue his outreach in Central Florida.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I love coming to the state of Florida, working with CLEAR Health as well as Simply to make a difference in Florida.”

Advocates are pushing for an expansion of the Medicaid waiver to help make a greater difference in those areas. They said they hope to see that happen either statewide or regionally over the next couple of years.

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.