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Linda Stewart presses Joe Biden’s case for Obamacare

More is at stake than covering preexisting conditions.

If the presidential election is about saving the Affordable Care Act, that issue involves far more than just preserving insurance coverage for people with preexisting conditions, Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart said Tuesday.

As part of a series of virtual press events arranged by Joe Biden‘s campaign throughout Florida Tuesday, Stewart joined health care providers and patients in Orlando to denounce as dangerous President Donald Trump‘s efforts to have the Affordable Care Act struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Yes, the preexisting conditions requirement in the act is at stake, but so are other coverages, Stewart and the others contended.

“We have pre-preventative care now. He’s gonna do away with that. We have comprehensive coverage now. That’s going to be gone. And the younger adults, they will be off their parents’ policies,” Stewart said.

“What are you going to lose, and are you willing to lose it?” Stewart asked.

Similar press events took place Tuesday morning in South Florida, Jacksonville, Southwest Florida, Tampa, Gainesville, and West Palm Beach featuring other Democrats and health care providers, notably U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Sens. Darryl Rouson and Lori Berman and State Reps. Nick Duran and Bobby Dubose.

In Orlando, Stewart was joined by Dr. Mildred Garcia, a gastroenterologist and internist from Orlando; Josephine Mercado, executive director of Hispanic Health Initiatives in Orlando; and Arnold Zelkovitz, a resident of Delray Beach.

Their message: The election should in part be about preservation of the Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama shepherded into law in late 2010 and Trump and Republicans have been trying to repeal or strike down in the courts ever since.

Though Trump two weeks ago signed an executive order that would protect preexisting conditions, Democrats maintain it was only a reelection campaign effort to try to dismiss the issue in the closing months of the 2020 election, and that his record, including his attempt to pass an Obamacare repeal measure in 2018, does not bear out any commitment.

But it’s the ACA’s availability and preventative coverage that the panel addressed Tuesday.

Zelkovitz said he and his wife went without health insurance for years because they could not afford it.

“And then, finally, thank God, Barack Obama and the ACA came into being and my wife and I got it right away,” he said. Shortly thereafter, tests showed he had heart problems that could have killed him had he not had it diagnosed and treated as quickly as he did.

“As far as I’m concerned, the ACA absolutely saved my life,” he said.

Mercado pointed out that before the Affordable Care Act made them fully-covered, basic preventative cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies were unaffordable for the working poor. She noted that with insurance she had to pay $6,000 for a colonoscopy, but a more recent one under Obamacare cost her nothing, because it was fully covered.

“With the Affordable Care Act, many are getting the treatments they need to discover the problem on time and survive,” Mercado said.

They also contend Biden would improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, force drug companies to negotiate lower prices through Medicare, and create a public-option health insurance plan, which Stewart called “the fastest path to universal coverage.”

“We need to put all our cards in with Vice President Joe Biden, because he is our savior,” Stewart said. “He is going to be the President that will save us from this insanity that we see us going down the road to. We should continue the work toward improving, not deleting the coverage of the Affordable Care Act.”

Written By

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

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