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Senate 'Obamacare' committee gets an earful from opponents to law

 The first committee meeting of the 2013 legislative session was the Senate's Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and it had all the makings of a classic: a grim overview on the implementation of a controversial new law, shouting audience members and  fiery monologue from a senior senator.

Sen. Joe Negron, the Stuart Republican who is leading the committee, started off the meeting by outlining his three guiding principles when considering Florida's implementation of the so-called "Obamacare" law:

  • protect individual choice
  • limit regulatory burden on businesses affected
  • promote competition and improve value of healthcare.

His vice-chairwoman, Sen. Eleanor Sobel, D-Hollywood, indicated that she will encourage her colleagues to embrace the law.

"Being that this is the law, we have to abide by the law and do what's best for the people of Florida in terms of their healthcare," she said. "Being the state with the third largest uninsured population, I think that needs to be reckoned with. And I think that we need to adjust our attitudes to make sure that eerybody has health insurance and a health care policy that is affordable and accessible."

Florida has many decisions to make, as outlined in a lengthy presentation given to the committee. For example, even if the state does not embrace the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, it will still have to deal with the costs of paying doctors more under Medicaid as required by the law. And there may be more people that sign up for Medicaid under the existing requirements, something that the state will have to pay for regardless.

When it comes to a health exchange, Florida has to decide in the coming weeks whether it wants to create its own, partner with the federal government or just allow a federal exchange to be set up in the state. 

As of mid-November, 16 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to create state-based exchanges, the committee was told. Five states opted for partnerships: Michigan, Illinois, Arkansas, North Carolina and Delaware. Eighteen others said they will not set up exchanges and instead have deferred to the federal government.

That leaves Florida among 11 states that have made no decision.

At the end of the presentation, Negron allowed about 45 minutes for public comment. About a dozen people opposed to the law, calling it both unjust and constitutional, spoke during that time. Many said they were affiliated with tea party groups. Not one supporter of the law spoke up during the public comment period.

Toward the end of the meeting, Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith decided to address the speakers who oppose the law. “It's hard to sit here and be silent and listen to some of this," he said as he launched into a mini history lesson.

Smith said the federal government has had to step in previously when the U.S. Constitution fell short, referencing school integration and even the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery. "The federal government had to stand in because our Constitution is an imperfect document.”

That riled up the tea partiers, who booed loudly as Smith tried to finish his statement, holding up the constitutional amendment process as proof that sometimes history proves controversial new laws right. Eventually, Negron stepped in to chastise the crowd for not showing Smith respect.

 

Comments

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Big Voice

Those that booed do not represent the majority of the grassroots. Rudeness has never played a part in this movement and it will not be tolerated now.

Dr. Ed Holmes

ObamaCare is now settled law. The retarded Teabaggers need to just get over it.

Thomas botelho

It's unfortunate that the loudest voices are shrill with rancor.

Tim

I watched the hearing online. I am a conservative who is opposed to this law for various reasons both constitutionally and in practical terms. I was so embarrassed by many of these self appointed "tea party" people who spoke at this meeting. It's important to note that not everyone who ID'ed themselves as a tea partier acted inapropriately, but the majority of them acted like disrespectful children. It was the low point of the tea party movement in Florida. The problem is, what's left of the tea movement at this point are mostly self appointed crazy people who do conservatism no favors with their simplistic and juvenile grasp of politics.

joan davis

if the republican party is ever going to win another election-----they need to sink that teatitanic. get back to the politicians who were elected by the people to vote according to what is best for the american people and not their party

healthcallin

Obamacare act which is called as also Affordable Care Act are basically prevailing in the United States of America to provide beneficial facilities to American public, so several health experts are debate on this healthcare act through their positive and negative reviews.

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