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First Coast Connect

6/29/2017: Senate Health Care Bill; Venezuelan Crisis; SoFit Sports Festival

Today on “First Coast Connect,” we discussed the Senate health care reform bill with Marty Goetz; CEO of River Garden Senior Services; Bryan Campbell CEO of the Duval County Medical Society; Diane Larson, a women’s health nurse practitioner and local activist; Chief Advocacy Officer for Ascension Florida Jules Kariher and interim CEO for St. Vincent’s HealthCare Tom VanOsdol (00:58). We heard about the crisis in Venezuela from three local Venezuelan-Americans William Mora, vice-president of the Venezuelan-American Association of Jacksonville; Leon Carrero, senior program manager at Aerostar and Gloria Matthews (30:57) who has been working locally with several organizations to gather supplies to send to Venezuela. SoFit Sports Festival organizer Ryan Graveline (43:42) told us about this weekend’s sporting event.  

Senate Health Care Bill   

The Senate is heading into the July 4 holiday break without the votes it needs to pass a repeal-and-replace measure for the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to use the July 4 recess to try to bridge deep divisions between Republican moderates and conservatives. The bill is facing an uphill battle not only in the Senate, but from the public, where it’s deeply unpopular.A scoring by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found the Better Care Reconciliation Act, as it’s now called,  would result in more than 20 million Americans losing insurance coverage by the year 2026.

Venezuelan Crisis

Protesters have taken to the streets throughout the country for more than 80 consecutive days now, asking for supervised democratic elections and the recognition by the Venezuelan president and his supreme court of the democratically elected Venezuelan Congress. During this process, more than 70 protesters have been killed by the government-run military. These problems are compounded by the current humanitarian crisis in the country. It’s estimated three-quarters of the Venezuelan population are slowly starving to death. Thousands of newborns are dying due to malnutrition and lack of medicine.

SoFit Sports Festival

The festival will be held the Prime Osborn Center 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It features competitions, demonstrations, vendors, health and fitness tips, giveaways and a kids’ zone. Over one thousand athletes are expected to participate.  

Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.