This week my opponent launched a personal attack on my past. I want you to hear the truth directly from me.

Ever since I entered this race, I have explained that I want to go to Tallahassee so that I can fight for middle-class families. I explained that as a working mom, I know what it is like to try to make ends meet and to raise your family. I explained that I have struggled to pay my bills and for health care.
The story of how it came to be that nearly two decades ago I had to file for bankruptcy is one that says a lot about 

who I am and what my priorities will be in the Florida Senate.
As a full-time student in the 1990s I was the proverbial “starving graduate student” – trying to get by on a modest stipend.  Making ends meet in those years was tough.  These financial difficulties were exacerbated by the high cost of health care insurance.

During this time, I was experiencing significant health issues.  The health insurance I needed to cover the costs of my tests and treatment was too expensive for me to afford — almost as much as my monthly rent. So for several years I took on debt to pay for the insurance. Without the insurance my medical bills could have skyrocketed, and I was terrified of losing the insurance and later being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition.

After the surgery, my health was better than it had been in years, and I got a job with benefits. Yet, even with my increasing salary, the debt from years of living on the margins was too much. Ultimately, I filed for bankruptcy 16 years ago.

Today, I am healthy, and my family has no debts, except for the mortgage on our home in Pinellas County. I am happy to say my daughter Peggy was born in 2005, and I had no complications, thanks to the amazing medical care I received in 
St. Petersburg.

The medical problems and financial problems I experienced as a young woman in the 1990s taught me a lot and have given me a passion to fight for everyone’s ability to access higher education and affordable health care.
For the millions of Americans who struggle just to make ends meet, the high cost of health care can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.  In fact, medical bills are the number one reason cited by Americans when they file for bankruptcy.  According to the US Census, 20% of Floridians have no health insurance, the 3rd worst rate in the country. We must do more to ensure Floridians have access to care. Now you know why I am so passionate about accepting the Medicaid expansion funding.

There are those who would prefer we go back to the days when insurance companies made all of our health care decisions, denying those with pre-existing conditions from receiving coverage, charging women more than men strictly based on gender, or capping the amount of coverage you can receive.
I’d prefer we keep moving forward, looking for solutions to improve the system, and ensuring that no one has to worry about losing it all due to illness or injury.

 I am running for Florida Senate because right now, middle-class families across Tampa Bay are struggling. And instead of making it easier, Tallahassee is making it harder for families to make ends meet, to find good jobs, and our kids aren’t getting the education they deserve. Tampa Bay deserves a Senator who will get up and go to work every day to support middle-class families who are still struggling to recover from the recession.  And, with your help, that is exactly what I will do.
Thank you for your continued support, Judithanne
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