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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Florida lawmakers explain their votes on American Health Care Act

Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee: “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.” 

Ted Yoho, R-Gainesville: “The first time the House brought up AHCA, it was not the right prescription for improving America’s healthcare system. It left too many of Obamacare’s heavy-handed regulations intact. Those regulations, while superficially appealing, in reality are the main drivers of high premiums and the ongoing collapse of the Obamacare exchange system. Allowing states to obtain waivers from the federal mandates governing essential health benefits, age rating, and health status underwriting, while ensuring that the state will protect those with pre-existing conditions, is a prudent and significant first-step towards replacing the ACA in full."

Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach:  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."

Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami: “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."

Francis Rooney, R-Naples: "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.”

John Rutherford, R-Jacksonville: “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."

Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami: “Today’s vote is just a step in the legislative process for this bill – not the end of it. We have worked hard to improve the legislation, but we have a long way to go. I have received assurances that the concerns I maintain will be addressed in the Senate, and for weeks I have been in contact with several offices there to make sure we are working collaboratively. A major priority is to increase the resources available to lower-income Americans and those approaching the age of retirement. I will continue listening to my constituents, doctors, health professionals, and other experts to make sure our decisions are as informed as possible. I approach this issue with a great deal of care and sobriety. For me this isn’t about ideology, partisan politics or presidential legacies, it is simply about building a sustainable healthcare system that empowers every American to make the best decisions for themselves and their families, and supports the neediest in our society. It's about putting patient interests first and above the special and government interests that have controlled the healthcare system for far too long. Now this process continues."

Daniel Webster, R-Clermont: “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 healthcare 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.”

Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor: “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."

Neal Dunn, R-Panama City: “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,” Dr. Dunn said. “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.”

Brian Mast, R-Palm City: “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.”

Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland: “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."

Frederica Wilson, D-Miami: “As those voters have made clear in town hall after town hall, they virulently oppose TrumpCare because it replaces their health care with something that costs more for less and in the worst cases will put affordable care out of reach. And, like me, they believe it is egregiously unfair for members of Congress to have the best health insurance available while diminishing or eliminating access to affordable plans that millions of Americans have come to depend on. The good news is that this bill will likely have an even more difficult time getting through the Senate. So when it’s time to go back to the drawing board, I hope my Republican colleagues will work with Democrats to craft legislation that is fair and will help even more Americans secure health care coverage. And during that process I hope they will remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar: “Passing the buck to the Senate is as hypocritical as it is cowardly. The CBO will surely score this measure before it is taken up by the Senate, and every Republican who voted for Trumpcare will have to defend voting for a measure that cuts care, steals billions from Medicare, and gives handouts to insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. President Donald John Trump and his Republican lackeys have accomplished nothing today. Eventually Republicans will have to get serious about improving healthcare for all Americans and not just the privileged few.

Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg: "Republicans are rushing to the floor a partisan healthcare repeal bill. No one has read it – and no one knows how much it costs! What we do know is frightening: 24 million Americans will lose their healthcare, insurance companies will be able to again deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, seniors will pay five times more for their insurance, and the poor and disabled will be seriously harmed through massive Medicaid cuts."

[Last modified: Thursday, May 4, 2017 4:46pm]


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