obamacare Archives - Page 2 of 30 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: In losing his seat, David Jolly found his voice. Republicans better listen.

Losing an election can be liberating. At least it seems to be that way for David Jolly.

The former Republican congressman from St. Petersburg always had an independent streak, but he has gone full-blown solo since losing his seat last November to Charlie Crist in CD 13. He takes every opportunity on Twitter to bash President Donald Trump, including a jab about the suspension of live on-camera press briefings in a recent missive.

But that was small potatoes compared to what the jab he took on Lawrence O’Donnell’s program on MSNBC. He committed Republican heresy by actually praising the Affordable Care Act (see Care, Obama).

Jolly said that after losing the election, he was unemployed with a pre-existing condition. Having the Obamacare safety net was a great relief.

So, here’s what I’m guessing: While Jolly told O’Donnell he is considering a rematch against Crist in 2018, he likely is finished in big-time politics — at least as a Republican.

The national organization already considered him a rouge thorn for his disinterest in raising money; coming out in favor of Obamacare is the GOP equivalent of having serpents spew from his mouth.

Jolly is a pretty smart guy and I’m sure he has a good feel for how he stands in the eyes of party leaders. They likely would greet his potential candidacy with the same enthusiasm one has for an IRS audit. CD 13 is a primarily Democratic district anyway, so even if Jolly got the Republican nomination, party bosses would be unwilling to channel money his way.

Republicans could have a tough time holding onto their House majority and probably would be willing to invest in races with a greater likelihood of success.

Here’s the thing, though. While Jolly is playing with a nothing-to-lose swagger that infuriates GOP leaders, they really ought to pay attention to what he is saying.

They have already gotten an earful from constituents about health care, and the seeming rush by the Senate to approve a bill that could leave 22 million Americans without insurance reinforces the GOP’s image as a party that doesn’t give a hoot about the needs of ordinary people.

When a person like Jolly says that he faced potential calamity after losing his government health care, the message to everyone is that clear: The big shots take care of themselves and their buddies, and screw over everyone else.

In losing his seat, Jolly seems to have found his voice, and he isn’t afraid to use it. His Republican friends better listen.

Andrew Gillum proposes constitutional amendment declaring affordable health care ‘a fundamental right of all Floridians’

Andrew Gillum is calling for a constitutional amendment declaring affordable healthcare is a fundamental right for all Floridians.

Gillum, one of three Democrats running for governor in 2018, announced Tuesday he was proposing a constitutional amendment to declare affordable health care a “fundamental right of all Floridians.”

The proposed amendment, according to a ballot summary provided by the Gillum campaign, would add “a new section to Article 1 of the Florida Constitution.”

“The following language shall be added to Article 1 of the Florida Constitution,” reads the draft text of the proposed constitutional amendment provided by the Gillum campaign. “Affordable health care is a fundamental right of all Floridians. In weighing priorities and allocating available resources, the Legislature shall afford the highest consideration to securing this right.”

The announcement comes as the U.S. Senate prepares to consider a health care bill that, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than the current health care law.

The Senate plan would end the tax penalty that law imposes on people who don’t buy insurance, in effect erasing the so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don’t offer coverage to workers.

It would also cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 billion through 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Obama’s expansion of the program. Of the 22 million people losing health coverage, 15 million would be Medicaid recipients.

“It’s time for Florida to finally enshrine healthcare as a right for all,” said Gillum in a statement. “There is a public trust for the government to care for its citizens, and our state can no longer be ambiguous about that moral obligation. When healthcare is under attack in Washington, we’re going to lean into the challenge of healthcare in the Sunshine State and live our values.”

In Florida, amendments can be proposed to the Constitution through an initiative petition process. According to the Division of Elections, in order for a proposed amendment by initiative to get on the 2018 general election ballot, a petition must be signed by 766,200 voters. Signatures must come from at least 14 of Florida’s 27 congressional districts.

Gillum faces Gwen Graham, a former U.S. representative from Tallahassee, and Orlando businessman Chris King.

_The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission.

These senators will make or break the GOP’s health care push

President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to repeal and replace “Obamacare” is now in the hands of a key group of GOP senators who are opposing —or not yet supporting — legislation Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is pushing to bring to a vote this week.

These lawmakers range from moderate to conservative Republicans, and include senators who were just re-elected and a couple facing tough re-election fights. Their concerns about the legislation vary along with their ideology, from those who say it’s overly punitive in ejecting people from the insurance rolls, to others who say it doesn’t go far enough in dismantling former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Satisfying one group risks alienating another.

Trump spent part of the weekend placing phone calls to a handful of these lawmakers, focusing on senators who supported his candidacy — Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky. The next several days will show whether the president’s efforts pay off and if those lawmakers and the others will ultimately fall in line on legislation that would impact health care for millions of Americans, while allowing Trump and GOP leaders to boast of fulfilling a campaign promise seven years in the making.

McConnell has scant margin for error given united Democratic opposition, and can afford to lose only two Republicans from his 52-member caucus.

A look at the key Republican lawmakers:

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THE CONSERVATIVES

Cruz, Paul, Johnson and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah jointly announced their opposition to the legislation as written last Thursday, the same day it was released. They said it did not go far enough to dismantle “Obamacare,” and Johnson also complained of a rushed process.

“They’re trying to jam this thing through,” Johnson complained Monday to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.

Yet Johnson, like many other congressional Republicans, was elected in 2010 on pledges to repeal Obamacare and has been making that promise ever since. While looking for tweaks that can satisfy the conservatives, Senate GOP leaders are also arguing that any Republican who fails to vote for the leadership bill will be responsible for leaving Obamacare standing.

Few Senate Republicans expect Paul to vote with them in the end, because of opposition he’s long expressed to government tax subsidies going to pay for private insurance, but many expect Cruz could be won over, especially since he’s running for re-election.

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THE ENDANGERED

Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, the only Senate Republican up for re-election next year in a state Hillary Clinton won, surprised Senate GOP leaders by coming out hard against the health legislation at a news conference Friday. Standing next to Nevada’s popular Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, Heller said he could not support a bill that “takes away insurance from tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Nevadans.”

Nevada is one of the states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The GOP bill would unwind that expansion and cap Medicaid payments for the future. Nevada also has a disproportionate share of older residents under age 65 — when Medicare kicks in — who would likely face higher premiums because the GOP bill gives insurance companies greater latitude to charge more to older customers.

Heller’s fellow moderate Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake, faces similar issues of an aging population in neighboring Arizona. He is viewed as the second-most-endangered GOP incumbent next year after Heller.

Flake has not yet taken stance on the bill but is facing a raft of television ads from AARP and other groups that are opposed.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat seen as a possible Flake challenger next year, said Monday the Senate bill “doesn’t make anyone healthier. It doesn’t make anyone safer.”

But Flake, who was outspoken against Trump during last year’s campaign but has grown quieter since his election, also faces a potential primary challenge from the right.

Both Heller and Flake face the uncomfortable prospect of angering their party’s base if they don’t support the GOP health bill — but alienating general election moderate and independent voters if they do.

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THE MODERATES

Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are fellow moderates who’ve raised concerns about the Senate health bill for a variety of reasons.

On Monday, after the release of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that the bill will leave 22 million more people uninsured over a decade, Collins announced she would oppose an important procedural vote on the legislation this week. Along with potential opposition from Johnson, Paul and Heller on the vote, that could leave leadership struggling to even advance to a final vote on the health care bill.

Collins said that the bill’s Medicaid cuts hurt the most vulnerable and that it doesn’t fix problems for rural Maine.

Murkowski has not taken a position but has also expressed concerns about the impacts on a rural, Medicaid-dependent population, as well as funding cuts to Planned Parenthood.

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THE TWO-ISSUE SENATORS

Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia are generally reliable votes for GOP leadership. In this case, both have two specific, and related, concerns causing them heartburn on the health bill: The prevalence of opioid addiction in their states, and their constituents’ reliance on Medicaid.

In many cases, voters with addiction problems rely on Medicaid for treatment help, and Portman and Capito both represent states that expanded Medicaid under Obama’s law.

Last year about 100,000 low-income West Virginia residents with Medicaid coverage had drug abuse diagnoses, according to state health officials.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Andrew Gillum blasts Republicans for hiding ‘immoral disaster’ of Senate health care bill

Andrew Gillum blasted Senate Republicans Tuesday for “hiding” behind its Obamacare repeal-and-replace bill, an “immoral disaster” which is being written largely behind closed doors and without Democrat input.

But the Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic candidate for Florida Governor is not the only one. Gillum is part of a growing chorus of disapproval coming from both sides of the aisle.

Several Senate Republicans have also criticized their own party, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who questioned the lack of transparency in the process.

“The Senate is not a place where you can just cook up something behind closed doors and rush it for a vote on the floor,” the Rubio said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

Despite Republicans wanting to vote on the bill is soon as next week, there has been, so far, no legislation presented for examination and few lawmakers (of either party) who even know what is in the proposal.

On Monday evening, Democrats took to the Senate floor for a series of lengthy speeches chastising Republicans — notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — for trying to push through a massive “back door” bill repealing the Affordable Care Act.

In response, Gillum released a statement giving somewhat backhanded praise to Rubio for cautioning against ramming a health care bill through the Senate.

“Senate Republicans are hiding their health care bill for one reason only: it’s an immoral disaster that will likely take health care away from more than 20 million Americans,” Gillum said. “Health care is a right in this country and state, and they are hiding behind closed doors because they don’t want us to know the truth.

“I was heartened to see Senator Rubio raise the transparency issue this weekend — if he feels so strongly about it, he should refuse to vote for it unless it receives full scrutiny.

“I’m glad his Democratic colleagues held the floor last night — we need to put up as many obstacles as possible to prevent Republicans from passing this bill that threatens the quality of life for so many Floridians.”

Dennis Ross: Dispelling the myths — real facts about the AHCA

Beyond any measure, the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” has failed in its promises to the American people.

As it stands, Obamacare is in a death spiral and collapsing under its own weight of broken assurances, imperiling tens of thousands of Floridians with ever-increasing premiums and fewer and fewer choices for their medical needs. Here are the undisputed facts about Obamacare:

– It was sold to the American people based on broken promises.

– People did not get to keep their doctors if they liked them.

4.7 million Americans have been kicked off their health care plans.

– Nearly 20 million Americans remain uninsured today.

– It increased taxes on Americans by $1 trillion.

– Deductibles will average more than $6,000 this year, and premiums have risen by 25 percent.

– More than one-third of all U.S. counties have only one insurance provider.

– In Florida, premiums are expected to increase by 19 percent this year.

49 out of 67 Florida counties are estimated to have only one insurance provider this year.

300,000 Floridians had their plans canceled under Obamacare.

– The Congressional Budget Office incorrectly estimated 22 million people would flock to Obamacare.

– Insurance providers are fleeing the exchange left and right, with Aetna announcing it will completely leave the exchange by 2018.

– Leading Democrats, like former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Chuck Schumer, have admitted Obamacare was a mistake and has left Americans with less coverage.

Faced with these failures, doing nothing and watching more and more Americans be forced to pay higher premiums with unaffordable deductibles was not an option. The only responsible path forward was to repeal and replace the failures and broken promises of Obamacare.

The American Health Care Act (AHCA) that I voted for and passed in the House does just that:

– It establishes a health care system built upon free-market and consumer-driven principles that will revive competition, increasing quality, drive down costs and expand coverage.

– Cuts $1 trillion in burdensome Obamacare taxes.

– Congressional Members and staff are not exempt from the AHCA. The McSally Amendment made sure this legislation applies equally to everyone.

– Those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage. I have a pre-existing condition with my congenital heart defect, and I understand how important it is to maintain coverage for others.

– Low-income Americans are not losing coverage and will still receive coverage under Medicaid.

– The AHCA modernizes and strengthens Medicaid with the biggest entitlement reform in a generation.

– It honors the enhanced state match that beneficiaries have been receiving.

– Restores $79 billion to hospitals who provide a high proportion of care to the most vulnerable patients, including certain Medicaid and Medicare recipients.

– Establishes the Patient and State Stability Fund that provides $130 billion to help states lower the cost of care for patients in need.

– Sets aside $100 billion for states to help low-income Americans access affordable health care.

– President Donald Trump has agreed to give Florida hospitals $1.5 billion to help treat the poor and uninsured.

No changes were made to the benefits Medicare provides in its current form, and the elderly will not lose or face more expensive coverage under the AHCA.

– Children up to 26 years old can stay on their parents’ plans.

– The AHCA substantially lowers premiums and eliminates the individual and employer mandates that are crushing small businesses and families.

– It provides tax credits and health savings accounts to help all Americans purchase affordable coverage, and ensures there is a seamless transition so no one has the rug pulled out from under them.

Defunds Planned Parenthood by blocking more than $500 million of taxpayer money, and maintains the Hyde Amendment. This measure is supported by the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List.

The AHCA is great a step in the right direction. After seven long years, we are finally putting patients first. We will continue working with the Trump Administration to further stabilize the health insurance market, increase choices, and lower costs for all Americans and families. We will fulfill our promises to those who sent us to Washington to help and protect them. I urge the Senate to quickly take up and pass this important legislation so we can provide relief to Americans across Florida and the entire nation.

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U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross represents Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Republicans put up billboard targeting Stephanie Murphy

The Republican National Congressional Committee is targeting Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy‘s Affordable Care Act support with a billboard in her hometown of Winter Park.

The digital billboard message has gone up on Fairbanks Avenue, diagonally facing both westbound Fairbanks traffic and eastbound [really northbound at that point] I-4 traffic, including those coming down the off-ramp at one of the most traffic-congested points in all of Central Florida.

“Tell Stephanie Murphy No To ObamaCare! No to Single-Health Care!” the billboard reads, with a picture of the freshman Congressional District 7 congresswoman. It then provides her office number.

“Stephanie Murphy supports ObamaCare, yet her constituents are suffering under it,” NRCC Spokesperson Maddie Anderson stated in a press release from the organization. “The voters of Florida’s 7th Congressional District need to know that their representative is a supporter of the failed law, and is doing nothing to fix the problems they are experiencing because of it.”

“Now, the Democrats are moving even further left to a push for single payer,” Anderson continued. “Murphy’s constituents should make sure she is not in favor of implementing this radical, costly, and sure to fail system.”

Despite AHCA punt, Rick Scott and Lenny Curry want to ‘repeal and replace’ Obamacare

The biggest political setback for the Donald Trump administration, thus far: the failure to get the American Health Care Act even to the House floor.

The administration’s attempts to message its health care reform legislation were short-lived.

However, one of the key theaters in that effort was Jacksonville, where VP Mike Pence, Gov. Rick Scott, and Mayor Lenny Curry messaged on the perceived failings of Obamacare.

Scott and Curry spent political capital on the effort: Scott especially, as he helped the Trump administration figure out its approach to health care reform, though Curry, as a local mayor, irked half the city by messaging on this national issue.

Appearing together in front of live microphones for the first time since that effort, we asked the governor and the mayor both about their feelings on the aborted health care legislation.

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 Our first question: did the Trump administration waste their time?

Scott sighed before responding, but hewed to familiar talking points.

“I’m going to continue to fight to make sure people have access to health care. Here’s what we know: we know that when health care costs go up, it impacts access. Either you can’t pay for it, your employer can’t pay for it, or the government can’t pay for it.”

“President Trump inherited an absolute mess. Obamacare’s spiraling out of control, and President Obama left in the nick of time,” Scott said. “We’ve got to find a way to drive down costs. I’m going to keep working … with the President, the Vice-President, the Congress, a friend of mine — HHS Secretary Tom Price  — to come up with a plan that’s good for everybody.”

“We want everybody in the state to have access to good health care,” Scott emphasized.

Curry, meanwhile, “wanted to echo what the governor said. The message was ‘repeal Obamacare.’ The message remains to those Republicans in Washington: ‘repeal Obamacare’.”

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Of course, there are existential questions about what that repeal may look like, as President Trump appears to have pivoted.

Meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators in Washington, Trump vowed to to “make a deal on health care … I have no doubt that that’s going to happen very quickly.”

We asked Scott if Trump was in danger of selling out the GOP base on this issue.

“Here’s what’s important to me,” the governor said. “We’ve got to come up with a way for people to have access to health care. If you can’t afford it, you don’t have access. My goal is come up with something that gives people good access to health care.”

“I’ve spent a good amount of time with President Trump. I know he listens. And my hope is that we can come up with something that all Americans can embrace.

How Mike Pence wasted Jacksonville’s time

As VP Mike Pence prepared to come to Jacksonville last Saturday to sell the American Health Care Act to Florida, some of the best members of the media dreaded it.

A TV person’s reaction: “Oh, God, I hope I don’t get called in.”

A print guy’s take: “I hate watching these politician events.”

In the end, neither of them were there. Nor were any of the real agenda setters in the local press. The local press turnout was sparse. The national correspondents were no-names. It turned out, a week later, all that was a bad sign.

Also a bad sign: the facility where the event was held — an envelope manufacturing plant — had the virtues and drawbacks of a secure warehouse setting.

The principle virtue: fencing and police at the perimeter of the building and blocks away controlling ingress and egress managed to keep the protesters away — a determined band of Democratic/Progressive activists kept, for the most part, out of the media’s line of sight.

The drawbacks were myriad.

One such drawback: no restrooms for the public. While there were portalets, there was no hand washing station. Politicians and the kind of party volunteers who made the apparently contested invite list love to shake hands. With those grins and grips on Saturday, they shared more than bonhomie.

Another such drawback: security’s key interest was in keeping the media in the pen.

Yes, yes, I know. It’s 2017 and the media are the most dishonest people in the world, except for Infowars and Russia Today and Fox and Friends, of course. But the people tasked with publicizing the event spent the whole time being watched.

We were forbidden to leave the pen after about 12:30. For me, a local guy who knew half the room, that precluded me from the kind of conversations I would have had with certain people in any other milieu.

However, the audience could come in the pen. This led to people approaching more than one female TV reporter and striking up conversations that weren’t of mutual interest.

So, beyond not getting the publicity the VP would have wanted, and beyond the ham-handed logistics of the event, what else went wrong?

The waste of political capital of local and state pols who made the trek.

“President Trump supports the bill 100 percent, and we all do,” Pence said. “A new era for federal/state Medicaid partnership has begun.”

LOL.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry got a warm reception from the same folks who sent him hate mail over not vetoing the HRO, but his words now look pretty hollow given the inaction of the House, which couldn’t get repeal and replace done when given a free kick on goal during what passes for the president’s “honeymoon period.”

Rep. John Rutherford may have enjoyed watching March Madness with the VP on the plane to Jacksonville, but he ended up at the periphery of the debate otherwise.

And Florida Gov. Rick Scott didn’t help himself much either.

How much time did Scott spend conferring with the Trump administration on health care in recent months? How does this Trumpian botch affect his Senate run next year?

Scott, the most prominent Obamacare critic of any state governor, spent his entire administration rejecting the Affordable Care Act.

Pence rewarded the governor’s messaging the day before in a press release and letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price. The VP vowed  to allow “states like Florida” the ability to have a block grant to administer their plans, and a “work requirement” for coverage.

“State solutions,” Pence said, are the best way forward for Florida.

“President Trump supports the bill 100 percent, and we all do,” Pence said. “A new era for federal/state Medicaid partnership has begun.”

So, here’s what happened in Jacksonville. The VP decided to make his stand here, giving Rutherford a platform because neighboring Ted Yoho and Ron DeSantis weren’t feeling this bill. The governor came in and got his moment in the spotlight. And Mayor Curry made the stop before going on Spring Break.

All of them got a news cycle.

But what happens the next time they try to sell a Trump initiative?

Will they be as useful?

After his re-election, George W. Bush said “what good is political capital if you don’t use it.”

Then he wasted it and lost it for a solid decade, until he took up portraiture.

Can Donald Trump paint? And do we have to wait until 2027 to figure it out?

White House, in gamble, demands make-or-break health vote

Abandoning negotiations, President Donald Trump demanded a make-or-break vote on health care legislation in the House, threatening to leave “Obamacare” in place and move on to other issues if Friday’s vote fails.

The risky move, part gamble and part threat, was presented to GOP lawmakers behind closed doors Thursday night after a long and intense day that saw a planned vote on the health care bill scrapped as the legislation remained short of votes amid cascading negotiations among conservative lawmakers, moderates and others.

At the end of it the president had had enough and was ready to vote and move on, whatever the result, Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney told lawmakers.

“‘Negotiations are over, we’d like to vote tomorrow and let’s get this done for the American people.’ That was it,” Rep. Duncan Hunter of California said as he left the meeting, summarizing Mulvaney’s message to lawmakers.

“Let’s vote,” White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said as he walked out.

“For seven and a half years we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it’s collapsing and it’s failing families, and tomorrow we’re proceeding,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said, then walked off without answering as reporters demanded to know whether the bill had the votes to pass.

The outcome of Friday’s vote was impossible to predict. Both conservative and moderate lawmakers had claimed the bill lacked votes after a long day of talks. But the White House appeared ready to gamble that the prospect of failing to repeal former President Barack Obama‘s health law, after seven years of promising to do exactly that, would force lawmakers into the “yes” column.

“It’s done tomorrow. Or ‘Obamacare’ stays,” said Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., a top Trump ally in the House.

Collins was among those predicting success Friday, but others didn’t hide their anxiety about the outcome.

Asked whether Republicans would be unified on Friday’s vote, freshman Rep Matt Gaetz of Florida said, “I sure hope so, or we’ll have the opportunity to watch a unified Democratic caucus impeach Donald Trump in two years when we lose the majority.”

Thursday’s maneuvers added up to high drama on Capitol Hill, but Friday promised even more suspense with the prospect of leadership putting a major bill on the floor uncertain about whether it would pass or fail.

The Republican legislation would halt Obama’s tax penalties against people who don’t buy coverage and cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low earners, which the Obama statute had expanded. It would provide tax credits to help people pay medical bills, though generally skimpier than Obama’s statute provides. It also would allow insurers to charge older Americans more and repeal tax boosts the law imposed on high-income people and health industry companies.

The measure would also block federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year, another stumbling block for GOP moderates.

In a concession to the conservative House Freedom Caucus, many of whose members have withheld support, the legislation would repeal requirements for insurers to cover “essential health benefits” such as maternity care and substance abuse treatment.

The drama unfolded seven years to the day after Obama signed his landmark law, an anniversary GOP leaders meant to celebrate with a vote to undo the divisive legislation. “Obamacare” gave birth to the tea party movement and helped Republicans win and keep control of Congress and then take the White House.

Instead, as GOP leaders were forced to delay the vote Thursday, C-SPAN filled up the time playing footage of Obama signing the Affordable Care Act.

“In the final analysis, this bill falls short,” GOP Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington state said in a statement Thursday as she became the latest rank-and-file Republican, normally loyal to leadership, to declare her opposition. “The difficulties this bill would create for millions of children were left unaddressed,” she said, citing the unraveling of Medicaid.

In a danger sign for Republicans, a Quinnipiac University poll found that people disapprove of the GOP legislation by 56 percent to 17 percent, with 26 percent undecided. Trump’s handling of health care was viewed unfavorably by 6 in 10.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who as speaker was Obama’s crucial lieutenant in passing the Democratic bill in the first place, couldn’t resist a dig at the GOP disarray.

“You may be a great negotiator,” she said of Trump. “Rookie’s error for bringing this up on a day when clearly you’re not ready.”

Obama declared in a statement that “America is stronger” because of the current law and said Democrats must make sure “any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans.” Trump tweeted to supporters, “Go with our plan! Call your Rep & let them know.”

Unlike Obama and Pelosi when they passed Obamacare, the Republicans had failed to build an outside constituency or coalition to support their bill. Instead, medical professionals, doctors and hospitals — major employers in some districts — as well as the AARP and other influential consumer groups were nearly unanimously opposed. So were outside conservative groups who argued the bill didn’t go far enough. The Chamber of Commerce was in favor.

Moderates were given pause by projections of 24 million Americans losing coverage in a decade and higher out-of-pocket costs for many low-income and older people, as predicted by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In an updated analysis Thursday, the CBO said late changes to the bill meant to win over reluctant lawmakers would cut beneficial deficit reduction in half, while failing to cover more people.

And, House members were mindful that the bill, even if passed by the House, faces a tough climb in the Senate.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Al Lawson: GOP health care plan ‘smoke and mirrors’

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson made his feelings known on the GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Spoiler: the Democrat from Florida’s 5th Congressional District stands in opposition, calling the Republican proposal “smoke and mirrors” in a Wednesday op-ed for the Tallahassee Democrat.

Lawson’s editorial distilled familiar Democratic talking points: “Tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while burdening hard working families with higher health care costs … soaring new health care costs for our seniors and [a shortened] life of the Medicare Trust Fund, endangering seniors and disabled Americans who depend on Medicaid coverage.”

It also advances the Congressional Budget Office’s declaration that 24 million more people would be left uninsured by 2025 under the American Health Care Act — the bill in the House that is finding pushback both from Democrats and Republicans aligned with the Freedom Caucus.

“I will continue to fight to ensure Floridians with pre-existing conditions don’t have to worry about losing their health care, that young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26,” Lawson said.

Worth noting: VP Mike Pence told Jacksonville residents on Saturday that both of those points are open for negotiation, a position that seemingly mollifies neither the united bloc of Democrats nor restive Republicans in Congress.

Lawson’s editorial dropped the same day former VP Joe Biden visited Capitol Hill to rally Democratic opposition.

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