Darren Soto willing to work with GOP on health care, but not on this plan - Florida Politics

Darren Soto willing to work with GOP on health care, but not on this plan

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto declared Friday that he’s willing to work with Republicans on an appropriate replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act but completely dismissed the GOP’s current proposal as no where near acceptable.

Soto, representing Florida’s Orlando-Kissimmee based 9th Congressional District,  is participating in the House of Representatives Democrats’ “National Day of Action” trying to build a grassroots opposition to Republicans plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare. Soto is holding a town hall meeting in Kissimmee Saturday. On Friday he participated in a telephone press conference with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and four other Democrats.

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In that call, Soto declared that the ACA has been “a smashing success” in Florida but if Republicans are going to repeal and replace he offers his service to help build an acceptable replacement plan.

“If Republicans have an alternative, show us your plan. We’re happy to work with you,” Soto said. “If not, work with us to improve the act rather than to eliminate it. We can work together on the premiums and more participation by citizens and by insurers. But a repeal without a replace would be a disaster.”

On Thursday Republicans circulated the outlines of such a plan. Soto, Pelosi and other Democrats on the conference call all declared it to be woefully inadequate to merit any support.

“This is just more of a doubling down of the extremism we’ve seen. They have not been responsive,” Soto said.

Pelosi said the plan circulating in Congress is nothing more of an outline, and she predicted that Republicans will hear from their constituents, just as Soto and the other Democrats holding town halls Saturday expect to hear from theirs, that many people have come to rely on and even like ObamaCare.

Also on the call with Pelosi and Soto were U.S. Reps Cheri Bustos of Illinois, Barbara Lee of California, Judy Chu of California, and Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania. They each took turns offering full endorsements of the ACA and anecdotes about how it has helped individual constituents.

“It has been a smashing success in Florida,” Soto said. “We have the largest exchange of any other state. We have received more subsidies than any other state. And we’ve enrolled nearly 1.8 million Floridians. Many working families in Florida have participated in this program because employer health care has been unavailable to them. It has drastically reduced our uninsured rates.

“Our state has much to lose. But really all Americans have much to lose.”

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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