WASHINGTON – Democrats on Monday continued to attack the state of Florida's decision to join an anti-Obamacare lawsuit that could take away guaranteed coverage for millions of people with pre-existing conditions.
Sen. Bill Nelson highlighted the issue during an event in Orlando, saying 7.8 million Floridians could be hurt if the lawsuit is successful.
In Tampa, Rep. Kathy Castor and former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner joined activists for an afternoon event and criticized Gov. Rick Scott for not withdrawing the state from the suit, filed in Texas. It has received new attention after the Trump administration said it would not defend provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual mandate and protections for pre-existing conditions.
No longer on the defensive over Obamacare, Democrats are working to make health care a focus of the midterm elections and polls show it's a top issue for voters.
Castor and former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, both Tampa Democrats, held a 1 p.m. news conference on Bayshore Boulevard along with disability rights activists blasting Scott, a Trump ally.
Castor called Scott "Trump's best friend" and noted that he "has been trying for years to kill the Affordable Care Act."
"What they couldn't do through Congress (repeal the ACA) they're trying to do through the courts," Castor said.
Joyner said Nelson will be "a tough ally in this fight" and Scott "is best known for massive Medicare fraud" by the hospital company he formerly ran.
They said people with chronic conditions including diabetes and arthritis will be left without coverage, and even those covered by employee health plans will be affected.
Scott, whose rise in politics grew out of opposition to Obamacare and is now challenging Nelson for re-election, said Monday:
"My position has not changed – I do not agree with efforts to remove preexisting conditions. I've continued to say that it is important to cover individuals with preexisting conditions and that every American, including those with preexisting conditions, should have the ability to buy any kind of insurance they want. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much, but keeping preexisting provisions should be a part of any healthcare reform. I disagree with efforts to dismantle protections for those with preexisting conditions."
The statement did not address the lawsuit, which Attorney Pam Bondi moved to join. We've asked for his stance on Florida continuing to be a party and will update the space when Scott's campaign responds.