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Congress’ analyst: Millions to lose coverage under GOP bill

Fourteen million Americans would lose coverage next year under House Republican legislation remaking the nation’s health care system, and the number would balloon to 24 million by 2026, Congress’ budget analysts projected Monday. Their report deals a stiff blow to a GOP drive already under fire from both parties and large segments of the medical industry.

The Congressional Budget Office report undercuts a central argument President Donald Trump and Republicans have cited for swiftly rolling back the 2010 health care overhaul: that the insurance markets created under that statute are “a disaster” and about to implode. The congressional experts said that largely would not be the case, that the market for individual policies “would probably be stable in most areas under either current law or the (GOP) legislation.”

The report also flies in the face of Trump’s talk of “insurance for everybody,” which he stated in January. He has since embraced a less expansive goal — to “increase access” — advanced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republicans.

Health secretary Tom Price told reporters at the White House the report was “simply wrong” and that he disagreed “strenuously,” saying it omitted the impact of additional GOP legislation and regulatory changes that the Trump administration plans for the future.

Still, the budget office’s estimates provide a detailed, credible appraisal of the Republican effort to unravel former President Barack Obama‘s 2010 overhaul. The office has a four-decade history of even-handedness and is currently headed by an appointee recommended by Price when he was a congressman. Trump has repeatedly attacked the agency’s credibility, citing its significant underestimate of the number of people who would buy insurance on state and federal exchanges under “Obamacare.”

On the plus side for Republicans, the budget office said the GOP measure would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the coming decade. That’s largely because it would cut the federal-state Medicaid program for low-income Americans and eliminate subsidies that Obama’s law provides to millions of people who buy coverage.

It also said that while the legislation would push premiums upward before 2020 by an average of 15 to 20 percent compared to current law, premiums would move lower after that. By 2026, average premiums for individuals would be 10 percent lower than under Obama’s statute, it said.

The GOP bill would obliterate the tax penalties Obama’s law imposes on people who don’t buy coverage, and it would eliminate the federal subsidies reflecting peoples’ income and premium costs for millions.

It instead would provide tax credits based largely on recipients’ ages, let insurers charge more for older people and boost premiums for those who let coverage lapse. It would phase out Obama’s expansion of Medicaid to 11 million additional low earners, cap federal spending for the entire program, repeal taxes the statute imposes and halt federal payments to Planned Parenthood for a year.

Administration officials took strong issue with the budget office’s projections of lost coverage.

“We believe that our plan will cover more individuals and at a lower cost and give them the choices that they want,” Price said.

And House Speaker Ryan said in a statement the GOP legislation “is not about forcing people to buy expensive, one-size-fits-all coverage. It is about giving people more choices and better access to a plan they want and can afford.” In fact, on the Fox News Channel, he said the CBO report “exceeded my expectations.”

Not in a good way, Democrats said. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the projections show “just how empty the president’s promises, that everyone will be covered and costs will go down, have been..”

“I hope they would pull the bill. It’s really the only decent thing to do,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

The American Medical Association, which has opposed the Republican bill because it would reduce coverage, said the report shows the legislation would cause “unacceptable” consequences. “

Two House committees approved the legislation last week, and Ryan wants to bring it to the full House next week. Though many Republicans back the bill, conservatives say it doesn’t go far enough in repealing Obama’s law while moderates whose states used the statute to expand Medicaid don’t want people losing coverage.

GOP leaders hope the Senate will consider the measure before breaking for an early April recess. Opposition from both ends of the Republican spectrum in that chamber suggests senators might demand significant changes.

The budget office attributed projected increases in uninsured Americans to the GOP bill’s elimination of tax penalties for people who don’t buy insurance, to reduced federal subsidies for many people who buy policies and to the reductions in Medicaid.

By 2026, the office estimated, a total of 52 million people would lack insurance, including 28 million expected to lack coverage under Obama’s statute.

Even though Republican tax credits would be less generous than those under Obama’s law, the combination of those credits and other changes to lower premiums would attract enough healthy people to stabilize markets under the new plan, the report said.

The budget office sees federal spending on Medicaid declining by $880 billion over the coming decade — about 25 percent lower than current projections. That would push about 14 million low-income people off the federal-state program.

Though average premiums are ultimately expected to fall, that would vary for people of different ages because compared to Obama’s law Republicans would let older people be charged more.

The report estimates that individuals’ out-of-pocket costs under the GOP bill “would tend to be higher than those anticipated under current law.” That runs counter to another claim from the president, that his health care plan would offer “much lower deductibles.”

CBO had predicted that 23 million people would be enrolled under Obama’s law, but the number proved to be about 12 million — largely because CBO overestimated the extent to which the individual mandate would prompt them to buy coverage.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Florida Dems in Congress blast GOP health care plan after budget report

As expected, the scoring of the Republican health care plan in Congress affirmed many of Democrats’ biggest warnings.

And, as expected, many of Florida’s delegation wasted no time Monday attacking the “American Health Care Act” as “wrong,” “inhumane,” “alarming,” and “ruthless and cruel.”

No word yet from any of Florida’s 17 Republican members of Congress on how they feel about the Congressional Budget Office legislative analysis of the bill Republicans introduced last week. Its aim is to replace “Obamacare,” the Affordable Care Act President Barack Obama and Democrats pushed through in 2010.

Democrats loaded up Monday at several of the CBO findings of the bill being dubbed both “RyanCare” for House Speaker Paul Ryan and “TrumpCare,” for President Donald Trump. The CBO reported that 14 million people would drop from being insured in the first year, and that a total of 24 million now covered would be without health insurance in a decade. The CBO also projected rapidly increasing premiums for the first couple of years, that it would cut $880 million from Medicaid, and increase costs for seniors on Medicare. And it reported that cuts to Planned Parenthood would mainly affect low-income women.

Almost all 12 Florida Democrats decried all those findings, through news releases, social media posts and statements on their websites. Among the responses:

“It is wrong to take away health insurance for 24 million people, as well as increase the cost to seniors,” wrote U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

“This legislation is terrible for those in their golden years, our seniors. And most distressing is how this bill treats the poor and the disabled of our society,” wrote U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, representing Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “The Gospel of Matthew teaches us that we will be judged by how we treat the ‘least of these.’ But this bill treats the least among us in the most inhumane way possible.”

“Biggest non-shocker of the week #Trumpcare knocks 24M people off insurance,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Orlando, representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

“This report from the nonpartisan CBO confirms what we already knew to be true, millions of Americans will lose health insurance, hardworking families will be forced to pay higher premiums, and Medicaid recipients will suffer greatly,” declared U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando, representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District. “As Republicans recklessly work to push through this plan, the people who need it the most, working families, seniors, and children stand to lose the most. The GOP plan is not better than the Affordable Care Act and Republicans know it.”

“This bill does not make good on claims by @SpeakerRyan,” tweeted U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, representing Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. “It will block millions from coverage in exchange for cutting taxes for the wealthy.”

“Despite numerous promises by Trump that no one would lose health insurance, Republican scheme does just that!” tweeted U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, in Florida’s 14th Congressional District. “Irresponsible @SpeakerRyan!”

“Yanking insurance coverage from 14 million people and leaving them uninsured next year would be ruthless and cruel,” wrote U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, representing Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

“House Republican leaders are rushing this process with closed-door meetings and midnight committee sessions,” wrote U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, representing Florida’s 7th Congressional District. “We need to slow down, bring both parties together, and get health care reform right so there aren’t any unintended consequences that hurt families, seniors, and small businesses.”

Rick Scott says ACA replacement is a work in progress

Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday that he thinks Florida would be treated unfairly under the current version of congressional Republicans’ Obamacare repeal bill.

Scott did not tell reporters he opposed the bill after meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan in Washington, D.C., though he did say the repeal bill needs to be fair for states like Florida, which did not expand Medicaid. He also said the bill needs to give autonomy to run their own Medicaid programs.

States like Florida which didn’t expand can’t get treated unfairly,” he said. He also called the current plan “a work in progress.”

The newly unveiled proposal would allow states that expanded Medicaid to keep their extra federal funds for the next few years until the program phases out in 2020. The bill would also tie Medicaid funding to the number of enrollees in each state.

States that did not expand Medicaid would get an extra $10 billion over the next five years under the bill and would also have spending cuts for safety net hospitals lifted in 2018, 2 years ahead of Medicaid expansion states.

House GOP releases bill replacing Barack Obama health care overhaul

House Republicans on Monday released their long-awaited plan for unraveling former President Barack Obama‘s health care law, a package that would scale back the government’s role in health care and likely leave more Americans uninsured.

House committees planned to begin voting on the 123-page legislation Wednesday, launching what could be the year’s defining battle in Congress and capping a seven-year Republican effort to repeal the 2010 law. Though GOP leaders expect their measure to win the backing of the Trump administration, divisions remain and GOP success is by no means ensured.

The plan would repeal the statute’s unpopular fines on people who don’t carry health insurance. It would replace income-based subsidies the law provides to help millions of Americans pay premiums with age-based tax credits that may be less generous to people with low incomes. Those payments would phase out for higher-earning people.

The bill would continue Obama’s expansion of Medicaid to additional low-earning Americans until 2020. After that, states adding Medicaid recipients would no longer receive the additional federal funds the statute has provided.

More significantly, Republicans would overhaul the federal-state Medicaid program, changing its open-ended federal financing to a limit based on enrollment and costs in each state.

In perhaps their riskiest political gamble, the plan is expected to cover fewer than the 20 million people insured under Obama’s overhaul, including many residents of states carried by President Donald Trump in November’s election.

Republicans said they don’t have official estimates on those figures yet. But aides from both parties and nonpartisan analysts have said they expect coverage numbers to be lower.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill would “drive down costs, encourage competition, and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance.” He added, “This unified Republican government will deliver relief and peace of mind to the millions of Americans suffering under Obamacare.”

But besides solid opposition from Democrats, there were signals galore that Republican leaders faced problems within their own party, including from conservatives complaining that the measure isn’t aggressive enough in repealing parts of Obama’s law.

“It still looks like Obamacare-lite to me,” said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., among three Senate conservatives who have criticized the emerging GOP bill. “It’s going to have to be better.”

The Republican tax credits — ranging from $2,000 to $14,000 for families — would be refundable, meaning even people with no tax liability would receive the payments. Conservatives have objected that that feature creates a new entitlement program the government cannot afford.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, wouldn’t rule out changes in the measure by his chamber, where significant numbers of moderate Republicans have expressed concerns that the measure could leave too many voters without coverage.

“The House has the right to come up with what it wants to and present it to the Senate by passing it. And we have a right to look it over and see if we like it or don’t,” Hatch told reporters.

Underscoring those worries, four GOP senators released a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., shortly before the bill was unveiled.

They complained that an earlier, similar draft of the measure “does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states.” Signing the letter were Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia opted to expand Medicaid coverage under the law and accept beefed-up federal spending for the program. Around half those states have GOP governors, who are largely reluctant to see that spending curtailed.

In another feature that could alienate moderate Republicans, the measure would block for one year federal payments to Planned Parenthood, the women’s health organization long opposed by many in the party because it provides abortions. It also forbids people receiving tax credits to help pay premiums to buy coverage under a plan that provides abortions.

Republicans said they’d not yet received official cost estimates on the overall bill from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. That office’s projections on the bill’s price tag and the number of people the measure would cover could be key in winning over recalcitrant Republicans, or making them even harder to win over.

A series of tax increases on higher-earning people, the insurance industry and others used to finance the Obama overhaul’s coverage expansion would be repealed as of 2018.

In a last-minute change to satisfy conservative lawmakers, business and unions, Republicans dropped a plan pushed by Ryan to impose a first-ever tax on the most generous employer-provided health plans.

Popular consumer protections in the Obama law would be retained, such as insurance safeguards for people with pre-existing medical problems, and parents’ ability to keep young adult children on their insurance until age 26.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Ron DeSantis sees political risk unless Republicans repeal and replace ACA

Congressman Ron DeSantis warned Wednesday that his fellow Republicans would take a political risk in failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and settle for tweaks to the health insurance expansion.

“The system’s architecture is flawed,” the Republican from Marineland, in Northeast Florida, said during an interview on MSNBC.

“It will not lead to lowering costs. Remember, that was the key promise that was made — that you’d see a $2,500 reduction in premiums for the average family. If you’re just nibbling around the edges — my concern is, I don’t agree with Obamacare, but I just don’t think that’s going to lead to putting a downward pressure on costs,” DeSantis said.

“It’s also the case that Republicans for six years have said, first the law wasn’t going to work, and then the law’s not working, and then that we were going to repeal it and replace it with our own patient-centered reform.

“To the extent you’re doing something that’s not really living up to what you promised, I think that runs into problems with the voters. Because Republicans would not have taken the House in 2010 and they would not have taken the U.S. Senate in 2014 if they had just run on minor tweaks to Obamacare.”

DeSantis praised President Donald Trump’s approach during his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening.

“I actually thought the president hit it exactly right. He was specific enough to offer guiding principles and contours to what a replacement would look like, but he didn’t get lost in the minutia, which I think would have put people to sleep,” he said.

“Particularly on the health care angle, I think what he did was thread the needle, where Republicans are probably going to be able to unify around those principles,” DeSantis continued.

“Particularly the fact that he linked the tax credits to health savings accounts. A lot of conservatives believe that the monies going to a health savings account, the individual can then play their premiums tax-free, and then, obviously, use the health savings account for other medical needs. That is one of the ways you put downward pressure on the cost of both insurance and medical care.”

DeSantis endorsed a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients.

“If you’re an able-bodied, childless adult, there at minimum has to be a work requirement in order to receive that benefit,” he said.

“I think Medicaid should be used to do its intended purpose, which is people who are disabled, who are poor. With the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, you are putting childless, able-bodies adults on Medicaid,” he said.

“The problem with that is, fewer and fewer physicians are willing to accept Medicaid now. So you’re expanding the number of people who are trying to access care on this program. I think that ends up undermining the ability of the truly poor and indigent who we need to be helping, for them to access care. I think giving governor’s the flexibility to do this makes a lot of sense.”

He liked Trump’s suggestion that an infrastructure program contain private investment.

“If it’s an Obama-style trillion-dollar bill, I think, obviously, Republicans are going to have a lot of problems with that,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of details that are obviously going to be important, but I’m one that definitely would like to incentivize private infrastructure development. And that’s not just roads and bridges. That’s dealing with our electric grid, that’s dealing with pipelines and things like that.

“The details are obviously going to be important. The higher the price tag is, the more difficult it will be to get it through the Congress.

Gus Bilirakis to hold another health care town hall in Wesley Chapel

Tampa Bay Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis will host another public listening session on the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday in Wesley Chapel.

During the two-hour event, Bilirakis said he would take feedback and ideas from constituents about the direction of the U.S. health care system, including the repeal and replacement of the ACA.

The six-term congressman has held similar sessions in Palm Harbor and New Port Richey this month, both of which packed with supporters of the health care law angered at Congressional Republicans’ plan to repeal the law without a replacement.

Following those events, Bilirakis signed on to a bill that would keep the ACA provisions protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions after its repeal.

“I heard a clear message from my constituents at recent town halls: people with pre-existing conditions need the peace of mind of knowing that they can get — and keep — health care,” Bilirakis said in a statement. “At events in Palm Harbor and New Port Richey, I listened to folks share personal stories about themselves and loved ones who were denied access to coverage because of a chronic illness. I made a promise to gather input from the people of Florida’s 12th District about the future of our nation’s health care, and I am keeping that promise with this legislation. We will protect those with pre-existing conditions and put in place a health care system that works for everybody.”

The Wesley Chapel will begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Wesley Chapel High School Performing Arts Center on Wells Road. The event is open to the public.

 

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.

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.”

Florida Times-Union writer featured on Morris Communications right-wing website

Morris Communications, the parent company of the Florida Times-Union and the St. Augustine Record, launched a right-wing website recently.

(Note: the headline is not redundant, so save your jokes.)

The company, which created a kerfuffle last year by endorsing Donald Trump as an “agent of change” in the T-U and other corporate properties, has doubled down on its position with the launch of Crossroads for America.

The website does not appear to be affiliated with Karl Rove‘s PAC, American Crossroads.

However, the sentiments contained within Crossroads for America, a look at “government at the crossroads” and “challenges in today’s democracy,” would likely be endorsed by George W. Bush‘s former strategist.

A few of the articles up on the site on Wednesday morning were written by Mike Clark, the editorial page editor of the T-U, including the one promoted Tuesday evening by the local Jacksonville paper.

On the site, Clark takes issue with the national debt, using muscular language like “We know what needs to be done. Now we need leaders to take action.”

What “needs to be done,” asserts Clark: cutting entitlement programs.

“That is where President Donald Trump comes in. He is bold, he isn’t worried about political correctness and he certainly isn’t playing the Washington spin game,” Clark asserts.

In “Obamacare Will Not Cure Nation’s Ills,” Clark takes his scalpel to the Affordable Care Act.

Happily, the House of Representatives has the palliative care for which America clamors, Clark writes.

“There are a variety of good Republican plans in the mix such as the Better Way plan from Rep. Paul Ryan or the recently released plan from the Republican Study Group,” the T-U editorialist asserts.

“Here is what Americans can expect from the Republican president and Congress: More choices. Less government control. Access favored over guarantees. More individual responsibility. More simplicity, less complexity,” Clark contends.

Clark avoids El Presidente’s campaign call to build a wall and let Mexico pay for it (the check is in the mail!) in his essay solving the problems regarding illegal immigration.

However, the editorialist does find time to cite anti-immigration advocate Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies and not the Florida State soccer coach, below the virtual fold.

Krikorian, when he Skyped in as a Florida House committee witness in Tallahassee recently, occasioned a walkout by the Democrats on hand.

House Majority Leader Janet Cruz called Krikorian a “white nationalist,” reported our own Mitch Perry, who spotlighted one of Krikorian’s provocative positions (“Haiti’s so screwed up because it wasn’t colonized long enough”) in the piece.

Jacksonville residents made a lot of noise about cancelling newspaper subscriptions in the wake of the Times-Union endorsement of Trump (a position not shared on the news side).

Frank Denton, in his editorial role, punted on accountability for that endorsement, saying it’s a corporate position.

And it looks like corporate has doubled down on that pro-Trump stance, and will continue to as long as the Morris family owns newspapers.

Lenny Curry backs Donald Trump’s travel ban from terror-linked Muslim countries

Back in 2015, in the wake of a terror attack in Paris, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry stunned some when he came out in favor of restrictions on allowing Syrian refugees to enter the state of Florida.

Curry noted, in letters to Jacksonville’s U.S. Congress delegation, that “at least one of the eight terrorists who conducted the attacks entered Europe with a special passport as a refugee of Syria. In light of this, I am very concerned about the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.”

He joined Florida Gov. Rick Scott in his request of members of Congress “to take any action available through the powers of the United States Congress to prevent federal allocations toward the relocation of Syrian refugees without extensive examination into how this would affect our homeland security.”

This position had been largely forgotten – until Donald Trump issued an executive order barring travel for 90 days from seven majority Muslim countries, including Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Sudan.

Additionally, the Trump order barred refugee admissions for 120 days, and imposed an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees … thus, fulfilling that ask from the Florida Governor and the Jacksonville Mayor.

****

Despite the firestorm surrounding the Trump executive order, which continues to blaze on every cable news network and social media feed, Curry supports the administration.

In a conversation Monday morning, Mayor Curry noted that he had joined the governor back in 2015 in demanding “certainty and safeguards” from the federal government on refugee admissions.

“I continue to believe that’s the case,” Curry said. “When the federal government moves to protect [American citizens], that’s the right move. The Trump administration is trying to protect [Americans] from terrorism.”

While Curry believes that some of the early execution of the executive order, such as barring permanent residents and green card holders from entry, is “problematic,” he also is willing to cut the Trump Administration some slack.

“The intent of the administration is mired,” Curry said, “in the bureaucracy of big federal government.”

Some pundits have suggested that a problem with the executive order was that it circumvented the Congress; for his part, Curry is “not going to get in that process.”

****

In a related subject, an organization that Curry is a member of – the United States Conference of Mayors – has made news in January by coming out in opposition to President Trump’s positions on sanctuary cities and a massive overhaul of the Affordable Care Act.

In contrast to his immediate predecessor in office, Alvin Brown, Curry hasn’t been a particularly active conference member.

Brown attended fifteen of the group’s conclaves.

Curry?

“I have not attended any of those conferences,” the mayor said.

Mayor Curry hasn’t studied the group’s positions on sanctuary cities or on Obamacare.

Given the gap between the mayor’s politics and that of the group, meanwhile, Curry intends to “look at that investment.”

The current price tag for membership in the group: upwards of $26,000.

****

However, there is a salient reason the mayor hasn’t given much thought to what the U.S. Conference of Mayors has to say.

Curry asserts that his day to day focus is on running the city, including victims of violent crime, saying that what he gets up thinking about – indeed, what wakes him up in the middle of the night sometimes – are situations like that of Aiden McClendon.

A year ago, the 22-month-old toddler was gunned down as he sat in a car on Jacksonville’s Eastside.

Stopping that violent crime – ensuring that such situations don’t happen again – is Curry’s focus.

And that focus informs Curry’s support of an executive order that seems draconian to many, but makes sense to a mayor who embraces public safety as his primary mission.

Americans feat they’ll lose coverage with Obamacare repeal: Poll

Though “Obamacare” still divides Americans, a majority worry that many will lose coverage if the 2010 law is repealed in the nation’s long-running political standoff over health care.

new poll by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds that 56 percent of U.S. adults are “extremely” or “very” concerned that many will lose health insurance if the health overhaul is repealed. That includes more than 8 in 10 Democrats, nearly half of independents, and more than 1 in 5 Republicans. Another 45 percent of Republicans say they’re “somewhat” concerned.

“No one should go without health care for even a day,” said Wendy Narug of DeMotte, Indiana, a small town south of Gary. A political independent who leans Republican, Narug works caring for people with disabilities. She favors repealing the Affordable Care Act, but not until Congress and President Donald Trump have a replacement ready.

Released Friday, the poll serves as a reality check for Republicans as they try to find a path to repealing and replacing former President Barack Obama‘s signature legislation. It found that even as few Americans want to keep the health law in its current form, many provisions enjoy broad popularity. The exception: the law’s requirement that most Americans carry health insurance or face fines.

“They should come up with something that’s a little easier and more affordable for everyone,” said Narug. “Some people have to pay hundreds of dollars just to go to their doctors.”

The health law offers subsidized private insurance for those who don’t have job-based coverage, along with a state option to expand Medicaid for low-income people. About 20 million people have gained coverage since it passed. Employer coverage has also increased, but experts credit the law for the vast majority of the gains. Some 28 million people remain uninsured.

Trump has said he wants to replace “Obamacare” with a plan that provides insurance for everybody and lowers deductibles. But his pick for health secretary recently cast doubt on the notion that a Trump administration replacement is ready to go. Questions remained after Trump attended the GOP congressional retreat in Philadelphia this week.

Overall, Americans remain divided, with 53 percent wanting to keep the law in some form, and 46 percent favoring its repeal.

Most of those who favor repeal say that should happen only when a replacement is ready. And most of those who want to keep the law say changes are needed. Among those who favor keeping it, only 1 in 4 think it should remain unchanged.

“If the Affordable Care Act was affordable, I would have no problems with it,” said Kevin Wollersheim, a delivery truck driver from the Minneapolis suburb of Hopkins. “Costs were supposed to go down, or at least not go up at such a high rate.”

Wollersheim is uninsured and expects he’ll have to pay about $200 in fines at tax time for failing to comply with the law’s coverage requirement. He said he didn’t even bother to look this year because premiums on Minnesota’s individual insurance market jumped by 50 percent and more.

That coverage requirement – known as the individual mandate – is a top target for Trump and GOP lawmakers.

The poll found that only about 1 in 3 support it, while just over half are opposed. Among Republicans, opposition rises to nearly 3 in 4.

“Don’t fine people; just make it affordable,” said Madlyen Sharp, a retired factory worker from West Plains, Mo., near the Ozarks.

The requirement was modeled on one that former GOP Gov. Mitt Romney signed into law in Massachusetts in 2006, designed to get healthy people into the insurance pool and help control premiums. At the federal level, it narrowly survived a Supreme Court challenge in 2012.

Although the Obama administration argued that the mandate was essential for stable insurance markets, the main insurance industry trade group recently told Congress there are other workable alternatives. Trump’s executive order on health care opened the way for broader “hardship” exemptions.

Other major provisions of the health care law fared far better in the poll. They included elimination of out-of-pocket costs for preventive care (favored by 77 percent), allowing young adults to stay on parental plans until age 26 (73 percent), forbidding insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health problems (69 percent), and the Medicaid expansion (66 percent). The first three are favored even by most of those who would get rid of the law.

Although Trump and other Republicans have made it seem like “repeal and replace” would be an easy matter, many Americans seem to question that.

“Obamacare” is like “a 1,500-foot battleship driving along,” said Michael Wolski of Lakeland, Fla., who administers a homeless shelter. “The infrastructure has already been changed. It’s already in place. (Trump) can’t just rescind it. And what’s he going to replace it with?”

The AP-NORC poll of 1,036 adults was conducted Jan. 12-16, using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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