obamacare Archives - Page 3 of 30 - Florida Politics

Democratic Senators: GOP ‘wealthcare’ will hit Floridians in pocketbooks

As the U.S. House prepares to vote this week on the American Health Care Act, Senate Democrats are messaging against the bill.

On Tuesday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee dropped a new television ad and launched a digital campaign around a hashtag: #FightWealthcare.

From the DSCC press release:

“The campaign features the DSCC’s first television advertisement of the 2018 cycle, “The Price,” a spot highlighting the stark and crippling burden the Republican plan would put on middle-class families in Florida who would be forced to pay more as insurance costs skyrocket while insurance companies get a tax break.”

In a conversation Wednesday morning, DSCC Press Secretary David Bergstein framed the Florida effort as a “targeted TV and digital ad buy,” though during the call he lacked more specific details as to spend and markets.

DSCC Chairman and Sen. Chris Van Hollen noted, via the release, that “we will make sure that every single Republican Senate candidate running in Florida is held accountable for their party’s toxic anti-healthcare agenda.”

Among those likely GOP Senate candidates: Gov. Rick Scott, whose resistance to Medicaid expansion was a leit motif of the Obama years.

The themes of the ad campaign follow up on a memo pushed out by the DSCC last month.

“During the 2018 cycle there will be no rock that Republican Senate candidates can hide under to escape the GOP’s dangerous attack on American families,” the memo reads.

“As the 2018 campaign cycle continues, there will be nowhere for Republican Senates candidates to hide — and at every turn, Democrats will remind voters that the Republican Plan puts the rich, the powerful and the well-connected first, while hardworking Americans pay the price,” the memo concludes.

Dennis Ross: Obamacare a mistake; time to repeal, replace

This month marks seven long and daunting years since Obamacare was signed into the law.

Seven years of broken promises. Seven years of skyrocketing premiums and fewer options. Seven years of tax increases, mandates and penalties. Seven years of families and hard working Americans having to make the choice between putting food on the table, buying cost-prohibitive health insurance under Obamacare, or facing federal mandates and penalties.

This is no way for Americans to live, and we cannot let it continue. We must pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) so we can repeal the failures of Obamacare and replace them with a robust and vibrant health insurance market where people will have more freedom and flexibility to get the affordable plans they need and prefer.

Since its enactment, Obamacare has kicked 4.7 million Americans off of their health care plans and forced double-digit premium rate increases on families. Today, one-third of U.S. counties have only one insurance provider, and multiple insurers are pulling out of the federal exchanges because of the economic strain Obamacare has on our nation.

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

In Florida alone, premiums will increase by 19 percent this year, and nearly 72 percent of Florida counties have only one or two insurance providers to choose from on the exchange. This is not choice.

Instead of kicking Americans off of their plans, the AHCA will kick bureaucrats out of doctors’ offices and put patients back in charge of their own health care decisions. This patient-centered legislation will lower health care premiums by 10 percent, reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion, cap Medicaid spending for the first time, and provide $883 billion in tax relief for middle-income families and small businesses.

The AHCA further eliminates the individual and employer mandates that impose burdensome requirements on small businesses and families. It also reduces federal mandates and regulations that force health care plans to be filled with services people do not want and cannot afford. The AHCA will allow for a seamless transition that provides continuous coverage for those currently enrolled in the health care exchanges, while helping Americans purchase their own plans through tax credits and Health Savings Accounts so no one has the rug pulled out from under them.

Through this legislation, we are also protecting families and the unborn by allowing children up to 26 years old to stay on their parents’ health care plans, preventing health insurers from denying coverage to patients based on pre-existing conditions, and blocking abortion providers from receiving federal funds.

This a beginning, not an end. We are going through the proper regular order and transparent process with this proposal, and are open to suggestions and ideas, something President Obama and Democrats were unwilling to do when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in the middle of the night. The AHCA is the first of three necessary and needed phases to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. This first phase allows us to immediately get the ball rolling by taking full advantage of the budget reconciliation process that will avoid Senate Democrats’ attempt to filibuster a full repeal and replacement.

After phase one is accomplished, we will quickly move on to phase two, which includes administrative actions, notably by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, to stabilize the health insurance market, increase choices and lower costs. The third phase will then allow Congress to introduce and pass additional legislative policies, such as allowing Americans to purchase coverage across state lines, which by Senate rules cannot be included in the reconciliation bill in phase one. Each phase has a thoughtful and strategic purpose in order to accomplish our long-awaited goal.

If we do not act, this disastrous health care law will continue in its death spiral, hurting American families and businesses, and threatening the next generation. After seven years of the American people telling us that Obamacare is not working, and after seven years of Republicans telling them we will repeal and replace it, the time for action and to fulfill our promise is now. We cannot, and will not, let this opportunity slip through our fingers. We must unite and put American patients first.

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

Donald Trump to Capitol in last-ditch lobbying for health care bill

President Donald Trump is rallying support for the Republican health care overhaul by taking his case directly to GOP lawmakers at the Capitol, two days before the House plans a climactic vote that poses an important early test for his presidency. Top House Republicans unveiled revisions to their bill in hopes of nailing down support.

At a rally Monday night in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump underscored what he called “the crucial House vote.”

“This is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare,” he said of repealing former President Barack Obama‘s landmark law, a GOP goal since its 2010 enactment. “We’re going to do it.”

 Trump’s closed-door meeting with House Republicans was coming as party leaders released 43 pages worth of changes to a bill whose prospects remain dicey. Their proposals were largely aimed at addressing dissent that their measure would leave many older people with higher costs.

Included was an unusual approach: language paving the way for the Senate, if it chooses, to make the bill’s tax credit more generous for people age 50-64. Details in the documents released were initially unclear, but one GOP lawmaker and an aide said the plan sets aside $85 billion over 10 years for that purpose.

The leaders’ proposals would accelerate the repeal of tax increases Obama imposed on higher earners, the medical industry and others to this year instead of 2018. It would be easier for some people to deduct medical expenses from their taxes.

Older and disabled Medicaid beneficiaries would get larger benefits. But it would also curb future growth of the overall Medicaid program, which helps low earners afford medical coverage, and let states impose work requirements on some recipients. Additional states could not join the 31 that opted to expand Medicaid to more beneficiaries under Obama’s law, the Affordable Care Act.

In a bid to cement support from upstate New Yorkers, the revisions would also stop that state from passing on over $2 billion a year in Medicaid costs to counties. The change was pushed by Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., one of Trump’s first congressional supporters. Local officials have complained the practice overburdens their budgets.

Republican support teetered last week when a nonpartisan congressional analysis projected the measure would strip 24 million people of coverage in a decade. The Congressional Budget Office also said the bill would cause huge out-of-pocket increases for many lower earners and people aged 50 to 64.

Democrats have opposed the GOP repeal effort. They tout Obama’s expansion of coverage to 20 million additional people and consumer-friendly coverage requirements it imposed on insurers, including abolishing annual and lifetime coverage limits and forcing them to insure seriously ill people.

The GOP bill would dismantle Obama’s requirements that most people buy policies and that larger companies cover workers. Federal subsidies based largely on peoples’ incomes and insurance premiums would end, and a Medicaid expansion to 11 million more low-income people would disappear.

The Republican legislation would provide tax credits to help people pay medical bills based chiefly on age, and open-ended federal payments to help states cover Medicaid costs would be cut. Insurers could charge older consumers five times the premiums they charge younger people instead of Obama’s 3-1 limit, and would boost premiums 30 percent for those who let coverage lapse.

House approval would give the legislation much-needed momentum as it moves to the Senate, which Republicans control 52-48 but where five Republicans have expressed opposition. Trump used Monday’s trip to single out perhaps the measure’s most vociferous foe — Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul.

“He’s a good guy,” Trump said of one 2016 rival for the GOP presidential nomination. “And I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed, in some form, so that we can pass massive tax reform, which we can’t do till this happens.”

Enactment of the health care bill would clear the way for Congress to move to revamping the tax code and other GOP priorities. Defeat would wound Trump two months into his administration and raise questions about his ability to win support from his own party moving forward.

Among the disgruntled were GOP lawmakers in the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, though the strength of their opposition was unclear. The group has seemed to have around 40 members, but that number may be lower now and some have expressed support or an open mind for the bill.

Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., an outspoken opponent, said the group was not taking a formal position on the measure. That could indicate that a significant fraction of its members were not willing to vow “no” votes.

Meadows said he believes the House will reject the bill without major changes.

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Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press

Gus Bilirakis all in on GOP health care proposal

Gus Bilirakis is sticking to his guns.

After holding three town hall meetings earlier this year, the Tarpon Springs Republican congressman heard strong (and on occasion, impassioned) comments by some constituents urging him not support a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

But Bilirakis stayed consistently clear that he supported killing Obamacare.

So, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that he intends to support the House Republican health care plan when it comes up for a vote later this week.

“The American Health Care Act is the best answer to replace the unsustainable Affordable Care Act and put our nation’s health care system on a viable path,” he said in a statement released Monday. “It will lower premiums, save taxpayers billions of dollars, and give patients more options for care. I do believe more must be done within the bill to help Americans in their 50s and 60s with health care costs, and I recently brought these concerns to House leadership and committee members.”

In his heated town hall meetings held in New Port Richey, Oldsmar and Wesley Chapel, Bilirakis faced strong opposition for his support to repeal the ACA. He won media plaudits by standing the rhetorical line of fire from impassioned advocates for maintaining the current health care law.

But Bilirakis was steadfast in saying he would support a Republican health care alternative, once offered up. And he says he will fight for lower costs.

“Throughout this legislative process, which began in January, I’ve held three in-person town halls, a telephone town hall, a roundtable discussion and numerous one-on-one constituent meetings in my district,” he said.

“I consistently fought to make sure my constituents’ views are represented in the American Health Care Act, namely the need to lower costs, increase choices, protect those with pre-existing conditions, keep children on their parent’s insurance, and more,” Bilirakis added. “As the bill comes up for a vote in the House this week, I will continue these efforts to ensure we better assist the millions of Americans who are not yet eligible for Medicare.”

The bill is on the schedule of the House of Representatives for a vote Thursday.

Puerto Rico governor asks Rick Scott for help addressing health care crisis

The governor of Puerto Rico has asked Gov. Rick Scott for his help in addressing the nation’s healthcare crisis.

In a letter to Scott dated March 17, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said his administration is working hard to stabilize the current fiscal fiscal and economic crisis and to “put the island back on a path of fiscal responsibility and economic growth.” However, he said the so-called Medicaid cliff that will come into effect before the end of 2017 threatens to derail Puerto Rico’s fiscal and economic efforts.

“This could lead to a full-blown collapse of our healthcare system,” he wrote. “Moreover, if this issue is not addressed by Congress in the very near future the fallout will be felt not only in Puerto Rico but also in the states, because the already high rate of migration of the U.S. citizens moving from Puerto Rico to the states will likely increase significantly, affecting Florida in particular.”

More than 440,000 residents of Puerto Rico have moved stateside between 2006 and 2015, driven mostly by better economic opportunities. The loss in population, he wrote to Scott, is “devastating because it decreases our tax base, erodes our consumer base, and diminishes our workforce, which all make our economic recovery more difficult.”

Rossello said he developed a fiscal plan approved by the Financial Oversight and Management Board, created under PROMESA, that reduces spending and spurs economic growth. But federal legislators need to address the Medicaid cliff and “ensure the success of these reforms.”

He asked for Scott’s help in “activating Florida’s congressional delegation as a voice of reason in Congress on this avoidable issue.”

“We are willing to do our part to provide greater accountability, increased spending controls, and prosecute any fraud, waste and abuse tied to federal healthcare dollars,” he wrote. “However, Congress must find a way to include Medicaid funding for Puerto Rico at current levels until ACA replacement comes into effect and must also help Puerto Rico obtain more equitable and fiscally sustainable federal healthcare funding going forward.”

Mike Pence: ‘Florida can’t afford Obamacare anymore’

Saturday saw United States Vice-President Mike Pence and Florida Governor Rick Scott talking about what Pence called “the Obamacare nightmare” with small business owners in Jacksonville.

Scott, who closed out the news week reprising a familiar call to allow the states to administer Medicaid via block grants, has worked closely with President Donald Trump and his administration on possible alternatives to the Affordable Care Act.

While the GOP line is “repeal and replace Obamacare,” finding bill language that offers comfort to moderate Republicans in the Senate and the Freedom Caucus in the House has proven challenging, making promotional media stops like this one for the vice-president a necessity as the Trump administration sets the stage for a House vote on health care next week.

Though support for the current bill may be shaky elsewhere in Florida, in Northeast Florida “repeal and replace” are the watchwords.

After a roundtable event with selected small-business leaders, the show for cameras and media commenced: the highlight, of course, was VP Pence, who Gov. Scott introduced as having stood with him in the health care battle since 2009.

Pence hyped the crowd for a couple of minutes, thanking the other speakers and extolling the virtues of Florida, pivotal on “the path to make America great again.”

“It was quite a campaign, wasn’t it? And it’s been quite an administration.”

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After discussing Trump’s “broad shoulders” and other crowd-pleasing ephemera, including his first job as a gas station attendant in his family’s store, Pence eventually pivoted to policy

“We know that when small business is strong, America is strong,” Pence said, describing the president’s “roll back of reams of red tape” and his work to “end illegal immigration – once and for all.”

“Businesses are already responding to President Trump’s ‘buy American, hire American’ vision,” Pence said, vowing tax cuts “across the board” and restraint of “unelected bureaucrats” and other talking points.

Pence pivoted from the crowdpopping lines to reference the Pulse attack last year, a function of “radical Islamic terrorism in this country.”

The wall will be built. And illegal immigrant criminals will be “off the streets of this country.” And “we will rebuild our military,” Pence said.

From there, Pence assured the crowd that “the Obamacare nightmare is about to end.”

Obamacare, said Pence, is a minefield of broken promises, and the VP has heard heartrending stories about the “hard choices” small businesses have made.

“It was a heartbreaking conversation,” Pence said.

Premiums: up 25 percent across the country.

A third of the country has one company available from which to choose.

And, said Pence, enrollment is down year over year.

“Florida’s actually a textbook example of what’s wrong with Obamacare,” Pence said, citing premiums up 19 percent year over year.

“Florida can’t afford Obamacare anymore,” Pence said to applause.

Referring to the business hosting the event, Pence noted that hundreds of thousands of dollars that could have been spent otherwise have been spent attempting to comply with this “failed” law.

“The core flaw of Obamacare was this notion that you could order every American to buy health insurance whether they need it or not,” Pence said.

The Trump alternative: “individual responsibility” and reform targeted to the state level, including expanded Health Savings Accounts and tax credits to facilitate buying private insurance.

Those with pre-existent conditions and kids under the age of 26, meanwhile, will be protected under the American Health Care Act, Pence said.

Pence spent some time talking about “engagement with Congress” to improve the bill, a seeming acknowledgement of issues.

As well, Pence vowed to allow “states like Florida” the ability to have a block grant to administer their plans, and a “work requirement” for coverage.

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

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

As well, Pence added that Americans will “have the freedom to buy health insurance across state lines,” via “dynamic marketplace.”

“It won’t be long until you see Flo and that little lizard on TV ads,” Pence quipped.

While “it’s going to be a battle in Washington,” Pence called for “every Republican in Florida” to support the administration’s moves to “repeal and replace Obamacare.”

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The VP had local and state support on hand.

U.S. Congressman John Rutherford, who flew down from D.C. with VP Pence, opined that “the American dream is being damaged by Obamacare … a policy that drives up costs and strangles small businesses.”

“We need a better way … we must repeal and replace Obamacare with a market-based health care policy that will reduce costs and increase consumer access to health care.”

CMS Administrator Seema Verna, introduced by Rutherford, likewise described the “burden of health care costs and overregulation” on “small businesses.”

“With the support of President Trump, we’re going to undo the damage done by Obamacare,” Verna said, also vowing to let states handle administering Medicare and have “freedom from Washington’s one-size-fits-all approach” – echoing Gov. Scott.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, introduced by Verna, said “this is really simple. The President and Vice President told us they’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare and that’s what happens now.”

Gov. Scott, introduced by Curry, noted that “Obamacare was sold on a lie. A complete lie … choices have gone down, prices have gone up.”

“We’re going to change that,” Scott said. “Obamacare’s on a death spiral. Prices have just gone out of control.”

“We had to sue the Obama Administration for our low-income pool because we didn’t expand Medicaid,” Scott noted.

 

Ted Yoho introduces health care transition bill

Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho has introduced a bill he says will give insurance companies flexibility while Congress tries to work out a replacement plan for ObamaCare.

Yoho’s Holding Health Insurers Harmless Act would roll back many of the regulations of health insurers in a strategy the Gainesville congressman said would free them to provide more plan options until the Affordable Care Act is replaced.

“It is important that all Americans have access to quality health insurance. Since ACA was signed into law, many insurers have either refused to participate in the exchanges established by the ACA, or have stopped participating in them altogether. In some states there is only one health insurance provider and option,” Yoho stated in a news release issued by his office. “This is unacceptable and not what was promised. “

Among the aspects in the bill, it would:

– Return federal requirements on health insurance plans back to pre-ACA days, removing mandates and penalties.

– Provide some certainty to private sector insurers that they can provide plans outside of the ACA’s requirements.

– Repeal requirements that insurers to provide certain plans, nor does it prevent them from providing plans that still comply with the ACA.

American Action Network launches robocalls campaign to support American Health Care Act

Voters in three Florida congressional districts could be getting calls them to contact their representative about the American Health Care Act.

The American Action Network announced this week it was launching a robocall campaign in 30 congressional districts, including districts represented by Reps. Ted Yoho, Ron DeSantis, and Bill Posey.

The campaign comes on the heels of a TV ad buy launched last week, and is meant to encourage voters to call lawmakers to tell them to support repealing the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, and replace it with the American Health Care Act, which is backed by President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Obamacare has been a nightmare for millions of Americans. We are calling activists across the country to urge them to call their member of Congress to ensure they do the right thing and stand with President Trump and Speaker Ryan in repealing this failed law,” said Corry Bliss, the group’s executive director. “The American Health Care Act will lower costs, increase competition, and reduce the deficit, while protecting those with pre-existing conditions. These conservative reforms will make health care truly affordable and patient-centered – that’s what all Americans deserve.”

The effort is part of an issue advocacy campaign worth about $10 million, according to the organization.

Matt Gaetz: Keep working to repeal and replace Obamacare

President Trump has endorsed a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. His plan, called the American Health Care Act, is described as the first of three immediate steps occurring to end this nightmare. Remember, Obamacare was implemented over several bills, with tons of executive overreach. Administrative corrections and legislation clearing the 60-vote Senate threshold must follow.

For this bill, we need 51.

I’ll be frank — I’m not crazy about it. I wanted to like it, especially after hearing from Obamacare’s victims: prices skyrocketing, premiums rising, plans closing, coverage decreasing. I wanted to like it because the thought of government forcing people to buy anything — much less health insurance — disgusts me.

We know Obamacare is a wet blanket over our economy, smothering the job-creating ambition of small businesses. I wanted to love it; I just didn’t.

We should be going bolder. We should get the federal government out of health care completely, not just diminish its role.

Then I remembered Tom. I met him at Waffle House. His hash browns were smothered and covered; his question was direct: “How will you decide which way to vote on stuff?” he asked while wiping ketchup from his mustache.

I told him I’d vote for bills that got power out of Washington — and against ones that didn’t. He grumbled on the way out, “Don’t lie to me” — and took a bumper sticker.

There is no debate that the American Health Care Act means less power for Washington. Specifically, under Trump’s plan, the federal government cannot provide taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood; enroll illegal aliens in health care entitlements — only to check their status later; tax people for not buying government-mandated health insurance; stop associations or groups from forming their own risk pools; punish businesses for hiring more employees; or force you away from your doctor or plan.

It also reduces the deficit by $337 Billion over 10 years and constitutes $1 trillion in tax cuts by repealing 14 Obamacare taxes. These are big conservative wins.

With several key changes, this bill would be much bolder. It wouldn’t be perfect — but better.

First, there should be a work requirement.

Able-bodied, childless adults who can work and choose not to should not expect America to borrow money from China to pay for their health care. Everyone can contribute to society — if not through a job or skills enhancement, by volunteering. This will help curb costs and engage all Americans in productivity.

Second, Medicaid can’t keep expanding.

The bill currently takes the position that Medicaid can expand for two-and-a-half more years before it is ultimately contracted. Already, 1 in 4 Americans is on Medicaid. This is like hoping to lose weight by planning to diet in two-and-a-half years — and eating everything in sight until then.

Finally, states should be totally in charge of Medicaid.

The federal government has proved an incompetent operator of the Medicaid program. We need 50 laboratories of democracy, totally unconstrained, innovating for better health care and lower costs. Some states will get it right; others will copy.

It’s easy to vote “no” and just blame others for not bending to my will. It’s harder to persuade others that the conservative way is the Better Way.

I serve on the Budget Committee. Earlier this week, my conservative colleagues and I offered Budgetary “Motions of Instruction” to address these issues. Thankfully, they passed, meaning the Rules Committee can accept our amendments to drain this swamp even lower.

I voted in favor of President Trump’s plan to keep the conversation going — to keep the legislative process focused on free-market, patient-centered health care. Giving up or accepting failure simply because the initial version of this bill underwhelms is not an option.

The American people won’t give us unlimited bites at the apple — it’s time to get health care reform right, or be stuck with the disaster that is Obamacare forever.

I owe Tom a strong fight to make President Trump’s bill far better. I also owe him whatever vote gives him more power, and Washington less.

Let’s keep working.

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Matt Gaetz is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, stretching from Pensacola to Holmes County.

 

Joe Henderson: ‘Shy’ Rick Scott needs to pipe up on Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Scott hasn’t been shy about sharing his feelings on the Affordable Care Act. Like any good Republican, he hates it. He wants it to go away.

Now that Republicans have a legitimate proposal on the table to replace Obamacare, though, Scott has gone into stealth mode on the subject. In an Associated Press story, the governor did the Rick Scott Shuffle when asked for his reaction to the plan now being debated intensely in Washington.

Scott said he was glad there is “good conversation” happening on the subject. Not exactly a stop-the-presses comment.

He even met recently with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who is pushing a plan that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said could leave up to 24 million Americans without health insurance.

Would the governor like to let us mere mortals in on what was discussed? People in Florida will be greatly affected by whatever finally becomes law, especially if it has a significant impact on Medicaid.

Florida depends heavily on federal money for Medicaid funding, and under the plan being discussed more than 4 million residents here would see their benefits reduced. That probably suits budget hawks in the state House just fine, but wouldn’t be good for many of the state’s elderly and low-income residents.

That’s where Scott needs to pipe up on this subject. In 2014, remember, he went to war (and lost) with the House over Medicaid expansion. Scott pushed for it; now-Speaker Richard Corcoran was intractably against.

Given his background as a hospital administrator before he went into politics, there are few people in the state better versed on health insurance than Scott. He could help frame the debate if he chose.

He certainly hasn’t been shy about making his opinions known recently on other subjects. He has been outspoken about his trying to save Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida. But now that the health care debate has intensified, we get crickets from the governor.

Curious.

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