Miami's three Republican lawmakers in Congress have said nothing about the GOP's plan to replace the Affordable Care Act since the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office concluded Monday that some 14 million people would drop or lose insurance coverage in 2018.
The legislation is the biggest policy proposal in the House right now. And the districts represented by Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen have among the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the country. Yet none of the legislators' offices responded Tuesday afternoon to requests for comment.
UPDATE: Ros-Lehtinen has now said she opposes the replacement plan. And a spokeswoman for Diaz-Balart said he is still reviewing the legislation and CBO report. "He has concerns about the legislation, and is looking into those," Katrina Valdes said in an email.
Only Curbelo has had to cast a vote on the proposal so far, last week on the House Ways and Means committee. He then defended his support for the law -- and on Monday, a group linked to House Speaker Paul Ryan started airing TV ads on Curbelo's behalf in Miami.
A slew of Florida lawmakers have issued statements or answered questions about the proposal. Democrats are universally opposed:
Sen. Marco Rubio (on Pensacola News Radio 1620 Tuesday morning)
"I started reading the CBO report last night. When it gives this number of all the people that are going to be uninsured, remember, they are saying that because without the mandate, they are estimating that a lot of people are not going to buy insurance by their own choice. Not that it won't be available, except they'll choose not to buy it because they don't have to. They'll want to spend it on something else. That’s a significant percentage of the numbers that they're calling out as being uninsured. That said, I have some problems with that bill and I'm going through it every single day. I want to make sure Florida is treated fairly when it comes to the Medicaid situation because we didn't expand and we shouldn't be treated unfairly or punished for that. I want to make sure the tax credit issue works well. I want to make sure we're getting rid of all those elements of Obamacare that did damage to the access to health insurance. I think the House bill is a work in progress and certainly we're not just going to take it up and pass it as is."
Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor
"The American Health Care Act is a necessary step to getting our nation's health care system on a sustainable path. The CBO report reflects many of our core goals: lowering premiums, reducing the tax burden, and making major entitlement program reforms. It also shows a significant cut to our federal deficit. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress and the President on additional steps to further lower costs and increase access to quality care, ensuring a system that works for everyone."
Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland
"The American Health Care Act will not only put patients and doctors back in charge of their healthcare decisions, but it will also allow for a stable transition so no one has the rug pulled from under them. This legislation will provide affordable coverage and choice for all, eliminate crushing taxes, regulations and individual and employer mandate penalties, allow children up to 26 years old to stay on their parents' plans, and ensure individuals with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage. This is a beginning, not an end. Congress and the Trump Administration are open to suggestions and working with others, something President Obama and Democrats were unwilling to do when they rammed Obamacare through Congress. This legislation is only phase one of three to further lower costs and increase choice for families. By repealing and replacing Obamacare, we are keeping our promise to the American people. We are putting patients first."
Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City
“With increasing premiums and skyrocketing deductibles, it’s clear that the Affordable Care Act has become anything but affordable. Residents on the exchanges in St. Lucie County and Martin County currently have no choice – with only one insurer offering plans on the exchange – and nearly 4.7 million Americans have been kicked off their healthcare plans altogether. We need a system that decreases costs for families, increases choice and gives people more options when it comes to their health. We also need to ensure that patients with pre-existing conditions won’t be denied coverage and that those who rely on Medicaid have access to quality care. “The framework bill is far from perfect. The only way we can fix the failures of Obamacare is through a fully transparent process that engages voices all across the country to revise and improve upon this plan."
Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota
“This is an important first step toward restoring choice and affordability to health care for all Americans,” Buchanan said. “This bill ends a failing government-run program that forces people to buy insurance and replaces it with a system based on choice, free markets and competition. And it will protect coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and eliminate lifetime caps on coverage.”
Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville
He spoke Tuesday on MSBNC
“I would not support it in its present form today. But we’re working in the right direction … The CBO, if you look historically they’ve been way off on certain things. ... It's not a finished product."
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach
"Congressman Gaetz believes legislation should be read and fully understood. He is actively engaged in that process now."
Rep. Dan Webster, R-Clermont
His comments via a constituent newsletter that also addressed a plan from Rep. Mark Sanford and Sen. Rand Paul
"While I am strongly committed to repealing the failed Affordable Care Act and adopting real healthcare reform, I have concerns with both proposals. For one, I am very concerned about the impact proposals will have on the demand for Medicaid beds in Florida nursing homes. This is critical to the access some of our senior population has to our hospitals and nursing homes. I also believe the final plan must provide the care we need, at a price we can afford, from the doctor we choose. These bills will continue to be the subject of much discussion and debate. I anticipate changes will be made before a bill comes up for a final vote in the House. It is my desire that the final proposal will, restore Medicaid to the original intent of the program - providing health care services to low income children, their caretaker relatives, the blind, and individuals with disabilities. Additionally, the following protections should be included in any final proposal: Protect patients with pre-existing conditions: Ensures you will never be denied healthcare coverage regardless of their health status. Protect coverage for young people: Allows dependents up to age 26 stay on their parents’ plan. Prohibits insurers from turning away patients when you renew your plan simply because you may be sick."
Sen. Bill Nelson
“It is wrong to take away health insurance for 24 million people, as well as increase the cost to seniors.”
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa
“It is unconscionable that Republicans are cutting health care for millions of Americans while proving massive tax breaks to the wealthy few. Fourteen million more Americans will be uninsured under the Republican repeal scheme than under current law in 2018. By 2026, 24 million more of our neighbors will be uninsured. The impartial CBO report also shows that the Republican repeal bill would gut Medicaid -- forcing states to reduce benefits and cut payments to providers, limiting access and coverage for millions to the program. Five million fewer people would be covered under Medicaid by 2018, and 14 million fewer people would enroll in the program by 2026.”
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg
"The score from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office confirms our worst fears. The Republicans' 'Don't Care' health plan means fewer Americans with access to lifesaving care, doubling the uninsured rate across the country, and raising deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. 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.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston
"Under Trumpcare, older Americans could be charged five times more than younger people, up from three times under the current law, increasing costs for those already on a fixed income who can least afford it. The Trump Administration is already trying to discredit this non-partisan analysis, but let’s face it, no matter how you slice it, the numbers would be appalling in terms of the toll on human health. An important note is that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office is led by a director who was appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan and former Congressman Tom Price, who is now the Secretary of Health and Human Services. We now have a non-partisan analysis confirming that Trumpcare will deliver higher costs, less care and more pain to millions of Americans who are already struggling to get by. I’ll do everything I can to stop this health care train wreck.”
Rep. Val Demings, D-Orlando
“This report from the non-partisan 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. 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."
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park
“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable health care, and I will not vote for a bill that falls short of that principle. Today the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said an alarming 24 million Americans will lose their health insurance under the American Health Care Act. Older Americans will bear the brunt of the bill’s impact with skyrocketing premiums and cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, which is why groups like the AARP strongly oppose the bill – and among the many reasons why I also oppose the bill in its current form. House Republican leaders are rushing this process with closed-door meetings and midnight committee sessions. 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.”
Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald