It was barely two years ago and at the end of an issues-dominated legislative session when a memorable conversation took place. That year, my caucus members and I had used every tactic available to us, including forcing bills to be read in their entirety, to draw attention to the issue of health coverage for all Floridians.

After the session winded down, I had an earnest exchange with a few enlightened friends. I told them I thought it was regrettable that they had not engaged and joined those of us who fought to secure desperately needed health care for hard-working Floridians. They responded, to my surprise, that I had not engaged them!

I won’t make that mistake again. We cannot afford to allow another opportunity to gain health coverage for so many people to pass us by.

If you agree with me and so many others that there’s a crisis in people lacking health coverage in Florida, then now is the time to get engaged and to demand that state officials act on a solution available to them. More than 850,000 Floridians are being unnecessarily denied basic health care so that a few officeholders – the Republican leaders in the Florida House of Representatives and the state’s governor – can score political points with some of their supporters. But their reasoning is illogical and their excuses are lame. It’s time that the governor and the House do what’s long been asked of them and to accept for Florida the billions of dollars that are available to expand health care.

Now is the time for us to stand together. It’s a time for our Baptist, Methodist, Protestant and Jewish congregations and other statewide leaders to stand together to call on the Florida House and Governor Scott to act in the best interest of all Floridians. We, along with the business community, are subsidizing our fellow citizens forced to use emergency rooms for basic medical care.

It’s time for the NAACP, the Urban League, ACLU, Unions and trade groups to join hands and demand that stubborn state officials do the right thing for the people who each day find themselves having to make the decision of whether to eat or to medicate.

Now is the time for all organizations, the Greek organizations from Alphas to Zetas, the Masonic Family, Charmettes, and the 100 Black Men to take to the streets and, if necessary, to storm the Capitol in peaceful protest as another legislative session comes to a close without adequate help for the working poor.

Finally, to our young people and their organizations, we need you to turnout and turn-up.

Turn-Up for your neighbors and friends. Come and get involved with the enthusiasm that’s only afforded the young.

It’s time that we all recognize that this is the time to turnout and Turn-Up for a Better Florida!

Perry Thurston is the Past Democratic House Leader for Florida. He may be reached at