Fam­ily de­mand an­swers in daugh­ter’s death at FIU bridge

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY MONIQUE O. MADAN

For 20 min­utes, Or­lando Du­ran swal­lows his sor­row in the flower aisle at Publix.

Pick­ing the per­fect bou­quet is para­mount.

One by one, he in­spects the posies for firm and sturdy stems, tight buds and bright, green leaves. Petals must be healthy, no dis­col­oration or wilt­ing.

“There it is, this is the one,” he says as he points at an ar­range­ment of lilies, hy­drangeas and car­na­tions.

He takes a whiff: “My baby will love these.”

The weekly Publix run for fresh blooms is rou­tine for Du­ran and his wife, Gina. Their 18-year-old daugh­ter, Alexa, a fresh­man at Florida In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity, was one of six peo­ple killed on March 15 when the FIU pedes­trian bridge col­lapsed onto un­sus­pect­ing mo­torists.

“When I want to see my daugh­ter, I have to go to the ceme­tery,” Or­lando, 61, says.

“That’s our re­al­ity now.”

The 4-mile car trip to the mau­soleum at Vista Memo­rial Gar­dens in Mi­ami Lakes is quiet.

With ev­ery pass­ing traf­fic light, their daugh­ter’s death be­comes more real. When the cou­ple roll past the main gate and onto the ceme­tery’s nar­row, in­ner roads, it hits them.

Or­lando places a pair of dark, re­flec­tive sun­glasses over his swelling eyes; a more ex­pres­sive Gina breaks out in a wail.

The thought of a moun­tain of con­crete man­gling Alexa’s Toy­ota 4Run­ner floods their minds.

Then come the flash­backs; the last phone call to her mom just seven min­utes be­fore the SUV was crushed while head­ing east on Tami­ami Trail. The im­agery of their

in which a sin­gle pub­lic pro­gram would pay most of the bills, but care would still be de­liv­ered by pri­vate doc­tors and hos­pi­tals.

One-third of Se­nate Democrats and more than half of House Democrats who will serve in the new Congress have en­dorsed pro­pos­als to open Medi­care to all Amer­i­cans, re­gard­less of age.

A Medi­care-for-all bill drafted by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Ver­mont, has been en­dorsed by 15 Demo­cratic sen­a­tors, in­clud­ing sev­eral po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York, Ka­mala Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia and El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts.

In the House, Medi­care for all is gain­ing new sup­port with the elec­tion of a num­ber of pro­gres­sive Democrats. They in­clude Sylvia Gar­cia of Texas, Ja­hana Hayes of Con­necti­cut, Joe Ne­guse of Colorado, Alexan­dria Oca­sioCortez of New York, Il­han Omar of Min­nesota, Katie Porter of Cal­i­for­nia, Ayanna Press­ley of Mas­sachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michi­gan.

Al­though Barack Obama shunned sin­gle-payer so­lu­tions as pres­i­dent, he praised Medi­care for all in a cam­paign-style speech in Sep­tem­ber. “Democrats aren’t just run­ning on good old ideas like a higher min­i­mum wage,” he said. “They’re run­ning on good new ideas like Medi­care for all.”

Billy Wynne, a health care lob­by­ist who used to work for Se­nate Democrats, said: “The lit­eral mean­ing of ‘Medi­care for all’ would in­clude Medi­care Ad­van­tage. But that is not what most sup­port­ers of Medi­care for all have in mind.”

The cham­pi­ons of Medi­care for all gen­er­ally see in­sur­ance com­pa­nies as part of the prob­lem, not the so­lu­tion.

“There are a lot of in­sur­ance com­pa­nies and med­i­cal com­pa­nies that are ad­vo­cat­ing for their own best in­ter­ests, and those best in­ter­ests are usu­ally money, and not peo­ple’s health,” Rep.-elect Deb Haa­land, D-N.M., a sup­porter of Medi­care for all, said in an in­ter­view. “We need a na­tional pub­lic health care sys­tem, which would be more af­ford­able in the long run, and the out­comes might be bet­ter.”

Large ma­jori­ties of Medi­care ben­e­fi­cia­ries say in sur­veys that they are sat­is­fied with their cov­er­age.

With a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent and a Repub­li­can­con­trolled Se­nate, pro­pos­als for a ma­jor new health care en­ti­tle­ment have no chance of be­com­ing law in the next two years. But they show how an idea long rel­e­gated to the side­lines is edg­ing back into fa­vor with some Democrats and could be em­braced by the party’s nom­i­nee in the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald

Trump and other Repub­li­cans have mocked the idea of Medi­care for all, say­ing it could ruin the pro­gram for older Amer­i­cans and gen­er­ate huge costs for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. It would “come at a stag­ger­ing cost to tax­pay­ers,” said Alex

Azar, the sec­re­tary of health and hu­man ser­vices.

Chris­tine Vilord, an Idaho school­teacher who de­scribed her­self as a mod­er­ate Repub­li­can, said she could sup­port a Medi­care-for-all pro­gram of na­tional health in­sur­ance even if it meant a small in­crease in taxes. She said she re­al­ized the need for such a pro­gram in Oc­to­ber when her 25-year-old daugh­ter was in a se­vere auto ac­ci­dent that left her un­able to walk for two months.

Asked if his vi­sion of Medi­care for all in­cluded pri­vate Medi­care Ad­van­tage plans, Adam Green, a founder of the Pro­gres­sive Change Cam­paign Com­mit­tee, an ad­vo­cacy group, said:

“No, ab­so­lutely not. Why would it? Medi­care for all, in the end, means fun­da­men­tal sys­temic change. Peo­ple would no longer be at the mercy of for-profit in­sur­ers that make money by deny­ing peo­ple care.”

Alexa Du­ran

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