Florida politicians react to GOP vote to repeal Obamacare

in 2017 by

Relieved Republicans have pushed their prized health care bill through the House. The mostly party-line 217-213 vote advances a bill that addresses their longtime pledge to erase the 2010 Obama health care law.

Thursday’s vote sends the measure to the Senate. Many senators consider the House bill too harsh and it’s expected to undergo substantial changes.

Here is a compilation of reactions to the vote:

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz:

“Today, I voted in favor of The American Health Care Act — a bill that will make health insurance more accessible and more affordable for people across America.

“For too many Americans, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been anything but affordable. Premiums have soared, coverage has plummeted, and insurers are leaving the market in droves, making a dire situation even worse. States have been robbed of their rights, and the economy has been smothered: small businesses cannot afford to grow, large businesses cannot afford to expand, and it continues to expand our out-of-control national debt with alarming speed.

“Obamacare is heading off a cliff. If we did nothing, disaster would have been imminent. I voted for The American Health Care Act because I do not want to see hard working Americans unable to afford coverage. I do not want our elderly and our sick to struggle under the burden of unaffordable, low-quality coverage. I do not want to crush our small businesses — the engine of American economic growth. What I want is freedom: freedom for individuals to pick the policies they want, freedom for states to operate with flexibility, and freedom of choice — because when people can choose between many different insurance providers, costs will be lower and quality will be higher. Under The American Health Care Act, insurance coverage will be better and less expensive — not just for the young and healthy, but for the elderly, and for people with pre-existing conditions as well.

“The long nightmare of Obamacare is ending. I am proud to have voted for The American Health Care Act, which is a step forward for all Americans.”

U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn:

“I do this today, as a doctor, for the good of my patients. We are following through on our promise to repeal Obamacare and replace it with reforms that lower heath care costs and expand access. Right now, Obamacare is failing. In one-third of the counties in the country, there is only one Obamacare insurance provider. Despite President Obama’s promises, the law has increased premiums and deductibles, and hardworking taxpayers have lost access to the doctors and health plans they preferred. For many Americans, deductibles are so high that it is like not even having health insurance at all.”

“The American Health Care Act fixes our broken health care system. Without Washington mandates that drive-up costs and limit access, Americans will have the freedom to obtain quality health plans that fit their needs at a cost they can afford.”

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson:

“Republicans have lost sight of why constituents sent us to Washington D.C. – and it wasn’t to score political points with President Donald Trump. This abomination of a health care disaster will raise health care premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for hard-working Americans while at the very same time, giving $600 billion in tax breaks to big corporations.

“Some estimated 24 million Americans could lose their health care coverage under this new bill, while those with pre-existing conditions will be at the mercy of their state leadership, which could opt out of guaranteeing them access to affordable health care. Trumpcare will allow insurance companies to charge people 50 and over five times more than they charge other people and it weakens the life of the Medicare trust fund.

“None of us can choose when and where we will need emergency care, or when we might join the millions of Americans who already have pre-existing conditions. No one should live in fear of not being able to seek medical care because it might lead to higher premiums they cannot afford.

“We need to make it easier to access and afford health care in our country, and Republicans have not put us on the path to do that. Rather they have taken us back in time and created more obstacles for those who need it most to get the health care they need.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy:

“TrumpCare takes health care away from 24 million Americans, while the rest of us pay more for fewer benefits. Older Americans will be especially hurt, and people with pre-existing conditions will be put at risk. This bill offends my conscience and hurts my constituents, and so I voted no.

“I want every American to have access to quality, affordable health care, but this bill falls far short of that goal. We should work in a bipartisan way to strengthen what works in the Affordable Care Act and fix what doesn’t – not dismantle our health care system with a hyper-partisan bill negotiated behind closed doors and passed without a single public hearing or cost analysis.

“Virtually all patient advocates, physicians, hospitals, and independent health care experts, including the AARP, opposed this bill. Moving forward, I will do everything I can to protect our health care in a way that reduces premiums and increases benefits for families, seniors, and small businesses in central Florida.”

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis:

“With the House passage of the American Health Care Act, we are moving forward with a health care system that lowers costs and increases choices. Like many Americans, I live with a pre-existing condition, as do many of my family members and loved ones. I would not have voted for the bill if I thought protections for those with pre-existing conditions were in jeopardy, as I promised my constituents during three town hall meetings. Today’s vote is the beginning of health care reform, not the be-all-end-all, and we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I look forward to continuing work to ensure health care is affordable and accessible for all.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney:

“I gave my word to my constituents who lost their coverage under Obamacare and were forced to work several part-time jobs to pay for plans on the exchanges they couldn’t afford. I gave my word to my constituents who for the first time were able to obtain coverage, regardless of their health status. Under the status quo, Obamacare will continue to fail, premiums will increase by 17% in Florida this year and my constituents living in these six counties – Desoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands, Lee, and Okeechobee – will still be stuck with only one health insurance provider to choose from. The American Health Care Act is not perfect, but passing this bill out of the House is the critical first step in the process of reforming our broken health care system and making health care for all Americans better. The AHCA will now go to the Senate, where my colleagues will have the opportunity to make changes to and improve the bill.”

“As President Trump has said time and time again, this bill maintains the current protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. I promised my constituents at my town hall in Englewood that I would only support a bill that keeps these important protections for people with pre-existing conditions. This bill provides states with funding to help cover the costs of enrollees with expensive medical conditions in the individual market. And let me be clear, because this is important, insurers in states that set up their own systems are still expressly prohibited from denying coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions. This bill may allow the system to operate differently than the top-down, federal government approach of Obamacare, but I believe it will create a market that offers people of all ages and incomes the opportunity to choose from a diverse array of specialized, affordable health care options that work best for their family.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch:

“There is a lot that Congress could work on to improve health care in America. Instead, Republicans forced a partisan bill through the House that will rip away health care from 24 million people. This bill will eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. From cancer to pregnancy and diabetes to heart disease, half the population will face price gouging based on their health history. The American people want better health care; they don’t want higher costs, less coverage, and cuts that will jeopardize Medicare and Medicaid.

“TrumpCare will allow insurance companies to discriminate against women, charge seniors five times more than younger consumers, hinder our fight against drug overdoses and addiction, and end requirements for essential health benefits like emergency room and mental health care in all health plans. With this vote, Republicans have chosen to put health care out of reach for millions.

“But beyond the substance, the process has been entirely undemocratic. Republicans locked the American people out of the process, drafting this proposal behind closed doors, holding hearings in the middle of the night, and refusing to wait for an updated report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office so that we know even more about the terrible damage this bill will do.

“I hope the American people are watching and will hold Congress accountable. I voted no, and I will continue to fight for expanded coverage and reduced costs so that all Americans have the right to access the care they need.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart:

“Whether we like it or not, Obamacare is collapsing and on its way out. Already, in two of the three counties I represent, the Affordable Care Act only offers one provider, with no choice or competition for consumers. In 2016, Miami-Dade County had six providers and next year, will drop to three providers. Collier and Hendry Counties are worse off; they, like forty-five other Florida counties, are left with just one provider. Knowing the people I represent could very well lose their coverage, just like Iowa residents did yesterday when their state marketplace collapsed, is disturbing. It would be irresponsible for Congress not to act in order to prevent this from happening.

“I will work with our colleagues in the Senate as they consider the legislation. I will also continue working with HHS Secretary Price and members of the administration to provide relief from the disastrous effects of Obamacare and ensure the AHCA truly serves the needs of my constituents and the American people.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast:

“The Affordable Care Act has failed its promises to lower costs, to let people keep their doctor and to let people keep their plans.  As a result, Martin and St. Lucie counties have only one insurer on the individual exchange.  Premiums and deductibles have become beyond unaffordable for people throughout our community, and I’ve heard from countless families just like Debbie’s from Jensen Beach who saw their premiums double and their deductible balloon to more than $12,000 under the Affordable Care Act.

“The American Health Care Act delivers relief for families by ensuring that you get to choose your coverage and the federal government can’t tax you based on what you think is best for your family. The bill returns control of health care from Washington back to you and restores access to quality, affordable options that are tailored to your individual needs.  The bill does all this while also increasing Medicaid funding for Florida by $400 to $500 million dollars that will go to help the most at-risk people in our community get potentially life-saving coverage and treatment.

“Like millions of Americans, I have a pre-existing condition.  As a result of my time in the military, I lost both of my legs and sustained other internal injuries that continue to impact my health care to this day.  I care about this issue.  I believe it is my responsibility to be the staunchest advocate for people out there that also have pre-existing conditions, and I will be.  This bill mandates that people cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions and allocates almost $140 billion in additional funding that will subsidize coverage for people with pre-existing conditions to ensure their costs are low, while driving down costs for everybody else as well.  Those claiming otherwise are the same people who said ‘if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor’ and they’re putting partisan politics ahead of the people in our community.”

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney:

“Repealing and replacing the failing and unsustainable social experiment of Obamacare is a necessity for Southwest Floridians that have seen choices dwindling and premiums skyrocketing. Currently, one-third of U.S. counties and almost half of all counties in Florida, including Collier and Lee Counties, have only one insurer offering exchange plans. Eighteen of twenty-three exchanges have failed and less than half of the expected exchange sign-ups have occurred. The plan being voted on today in the House of Representatives is a conservative, patient-centric, free enterprise healthcare solution that provides choice and competition. Despite what some on the left are contending, coverage for pre-existing conditions will remain. The ability for individual states to tailor their guidelines to meet the needs of their residents is a critical element of reforming our health care system, and it is what our Constitution intends for powers not expressly delegated to the federal government.”

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross:

“After seven long years, Americans across Florida and the entire nation can breathe a sigh of relief today because we fulfilled our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. By working with President Trump and uniting to pass the AHCA, we are putting patients first and ending an era of skyrocketing premiums, massive tax hikes and burdensome mandates and penalties.

“Obamacare has kicked 4.7 million Americans off of their healthcare plans, and in Florida alone, premiums are expected to increase by 19 percent this year. Insurance providers are fleeing the exchange left and right, with major providers, like Medica and Aetna, announcing just this week they are withdrawing from Iowa and Virginia, leaving families with little to no choices. This death spiral is hitting hard nationwide, but we put an end to it today.

“The AHCA will kick bureaucrats out of doctors’ offices and put patients back in charge of their own healthcare decisions. It will lower premiums and eliminate the individual and employer mandates that are crushing small businesses and families. My vote today prevents insurers from denying patients coverage for pre-existing conditions, allows children up to 26 years old to stay on their parents’ healthcare plans, and provides a seamless transition so no one has the rug pulled out from under them.

“Additionally, as a Christian, father and staunch defender of life, I am proud the AHCA defunds Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, by blocking more than $500 million of taxpayer dollars. This has the strong support of the National Right to Life Committee, which has awarded me a perfect 100 percent rating.

“We will continue to work with the Trump Administration to further stabilize the health insurance market, increase choices, and lower costs for all Americans and families. I encourage the Senate to quickly take up and pass the AHCA so President Trump can finally sign into law the repeal of Obamacare, and we can provide Americans relief and access to affordable plans they need and prefer. After seven years, we are finally putting patients first.”

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford:

“After seven years of broken promises, it is clear that Obamacare is on the path to collapse and the American people are paying the price. Just this week, we saw two more announcements of insurance carriers leaving the marketplace, leaving consumers with few or even no choices for coverage. Obamacare has given us fewer choices, skyrocketing premiums, higher deductibles, and higher taxes. It is not working and we must act. I promised the people of Northeast Florida that we would protect them from this misguided law, and today we have voted to do just that.

“The American Health Care Act repeals Obamacare, its mandates, taxes, and rules, which will lower consumer costs. It replaces it with a system that empowers individuals and families to obtain affordable, quality health care coverage. No longer will Americans be mandated to buy a plan they cannot afford, do not want, and cannot even use. The legislation maintains the guarantee that Americans with pre-existing conditions will have affordable coverage, and it continues to allow children to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26.

“While this represents a big step toward the market-based reforms needed to make health care more affordable and accessible for all, we must continue to drive down the cost of health care. I will continue working to increase access to quality, affordable health care for every Northeast Florida family.”

U.S. Rep. Dan Webster:

“Today, I voted to end the nightmare that has been the [un]Affordable Care Act (ACA) and to provide Americans with the care they need, at a price they can afford, from the doctor they choose. For six years, I have been an advocate for repealing the failed Obamacare and replacing it with real health care reform. ACA has is collapsing across the country — currently 4.7 million people are without an insurer.  This failed policy is raising costs for patients and forcing insurers out of the marketplace, which leaves patients and families with nowhere to go.

“I have been very concerned about Florida’s Medicaid-funded nursing home beds.  These are critical to the access some of our senior population has to our nursing homes.

“President Trump, Vice President Pence, Center for Medicaid Services and House leadership have committed to find a solution to ensure Florida is equipped to serve one of our most vulnerable. With these assurances and Chairman Walden’s comments that are now in the official record, I voted for the bill today.”

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham:

“By advancing Trumpcare 2.0, Congress is completely ignoring what’s going on in the real lives of every American family. Instead of focusing on real solutions to lower the cost of health care, they’ve passed a bill that will eliminate coverage for more than 20 million Americans, tax seniors and force working families to pay more out of pocket. In Congress, I fought in support of Obamcare because it has allowed children to stay on their parents’ plans, ended discrimination against women and helped millions of Americans who have a pre-existing condition. We must now redouble our efforts and fight to stop Trumpcare in the Senate. I’m picking up my phone to call Senator Rubio’s office now — I hope you’ll join me in telling him to kill this bill.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum:

“I am sickened by today’s vote, and the waves of attacks that led to it. The House of Representatives’ vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act was foretold by years of attacks aimed at questioning its foundation and weakening its core provisions like employer-based coverage and protections for pre-existing conditions. Republicans certainly bear the brunt of responsibility for the harsh consequences of repeal, but so do all Washington politicians who aided and abetted their efforts to undercut Obamacare, making it harder for workers to gain access to health insurance for political expediency. As Governor, Floridians can count on me to protect and expand affordable health care coverage as a right, not a luxury.”

Democratic candidate for governor Chris King:

“The Trumpcare bill being rammed through Congress would allow states to remove protections for people with pre-existing conditions and subject them to unconscionable premiums. One of the most horrendous aspects of this bill is that it attacks women through increased premiums on those who have been pregnant, had a c-section, or had postpartum depression. It even categorizes victims of sexual assault and domestic violence as having pre-existing conditions.

“So, I pledge that if I’m given the honor of being our next governor, Florida will not ask for or exercise any waiver that takes away protections against pre-existing conditions. On my watch, Floridians who are battling illness and disease, will have the confidence of knowing that they will not be punished for getting sick.

“There’s nothing scarier than being told you or someone you love is sick. Trumpcare only adds to that anxiety by saying once you get sick you won’t be able to afford insurance. Government should help us be free from fear, not the cause of it.

“So, I call on all my fellow candidates – including Commissioner Putnam – to join me in saying they too will not ask for, or take, any waiver that removes protections for Floridans with pre-existing conditions. Let’s be united in saying that whomever is Governor, we aren’t going to punish our sick family members. We will not punish women. And we won’t live with fear.”

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee:

“Just like they self-serving Tallahassee politician that he is, Governor Scott bragged about his leading role in helping craft this toxic health care proposal — and now he owns this horrific Plan that strips coverage and spikes costs for Floridians. Scott has broken his promise to voters — his plan makes older Americans pay five times more for care, strips away coverage for pre-existing conditions and threatens vital drug abuse prevention and women’s healthcare services, all to give big insurance companies another handout. Floridians of every political persuasion are united in opposition to these proposals, and if Scott chooses to run for Senate he will be held accountable for his toxic health care agenda.”

Florida Democratic Party:

“This “revised” version of the bill hurts Floridians even more than the original. The 7.8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions whose coverage would be jeopardized under this bill have much to worry about, considering that Rick Scott has supported Trumpcare and refused to fully implement the Affordable Care Act in Florida by expanding Medicaid and giving coverage to nearly 1 million Floridians. We must hold the elected officials who supported this inhumane bill accountable and vote them out in 2018.”

Progress Florida:

“Florida’s U.S. Representatives who voted to repeal critical patient and consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act and replace it with Trumpcare have ignored condemnation by health professionals and turned their backs on Florida families. In doing so, they’re shamelessly doling out $600 billion in tax cuts for the very wealthy and big insurance and drug companies.

“Trumpcare will increase health care costs, reduce quality of care, strip coverage from an estimated 24 million Americans and gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Adding insult to injury, Trumpcare would exempt Members of Congress from the law.

“Trumpcare is a disaster in the making and literally a death sentence for some Floridians.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.