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Florida Senators Divided Over New GOP Health Care Plan

July 13, 2017 - 6:45pm
Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson
Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson

Florida’s U.S. senators are split over their chamber’s GOP-led proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., announced their opposing views on the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, adding to the flurry of an uncertain future for the plan, which has been riddled with setbacks since its inception.

Florida’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, initially appeared uncertain whether or not he’d support the measure, which has yet to come up for a full vote on the Senate floor.

“Senate healthcare proposal needs changes before I vote yes,” Rubio tweeted on Sunday. 

The Florida Republican said he wouldn’t just cling to the bill blindly, noting there were several key proposals which needed to be placed in the measure before he pledged his support.

Among Rubio’s demands: more Medicaid funding for Florida’s hospitals, which provide health care services for the state’s low-income patients and allowing the option for catastrophic coverage, a type of high-deductible ACA plan for people under 30 qualifying for a “hardship exemption.” 

Rubio also said he wanted flexibility in Medicaid caps for public health emergencies like the Zika virus, which ravaged Florida in 2016.

When Thursday rolled around and the bill was released, Rubio announced he would be supporting the measure, joining his fellow Republicans in their crusade to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which they believe is a deeply-flawed health care plan.

“The sooner we get to the floor and start the debate on the floor in front of the American people, the better off it’s going to be for everyone,” said Rubio.

Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, however, would have none of what the GOP was selling, sharply criticizing the new healthcare proposal as a terrible idea for the American people.

“This latest Republican health care bill is just as bad as the previous versions,” said Nelson. “It makes huge cuts to Medicaid, allows insurance companies to hike rates for older Americans and will take coverage away from millions of people. We need to be working together to improve our nation’s health care system, not make it worse. If approved, this bill will hurt a lot of Floridians and for that reason alone,”

Nelson said he would oppose the measure.

According to the CBO, the original BCRA plan would have made drastic cuts to the country’s Medicaid program, slashing spending by $772 billion over 10 years. The plan also would have resulted in 15 million fewer Medicaid enrollees than exist under the ACA.

The CBO score on the new bill is expected to be released Monday or Tuesday. 

It’s uncertain if the Senate’s new healthcare proposal will actually make it onto the Senate floor for consideration, though. 

Two Republican senators have already announced they’re uneasy about the plan. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have both said they don’t intend on supporting the measure as it currently stands.

If one more GOP senator joined Collins and Paul and all Democrats voted against the measure, it’s lights out for the BCRA.

Once a procedural vote is completed, the proposal would be put up for a final vote the following week.

As for now, count Rubio “in” for the BCRA -- and Nelson “out.”


Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


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Why can't our politicians compromise and do something good for the tax paying Americans for a change? Follow the money. Find out which Congressmen and Senators are totally in the Health Insurance companies and Pharma pockets? Political Party doesn't matter to those entrenched in the Washington Swamp who are dependent on large donations in order to stay in office. Get rid of fraud, waste and abuse in the Medical Industry, cap Medical Malpractice lawsuit rewards and we'll have plenty of Federal money to fund catastrophic illness and preexisting policies plus provide safety-net medical coverage for those who truly need the help. Put everyone in one type of group plan or another and sell a menu of policies across state lines creating market based competition. The hold up isn't due to what these politicians would like us to believe. It is all about sorting out who in the industry will receive pay offs and how to hide it. That takes time. I wonder if there is a journalist left on the planet willing to invest the time to find out the truth about anything any more. Really sad.

The Federal Gov needs to get the hell out of imposing socialist medicine on the States and Citizens. Thanks to the Rino republicans that cowered in the corner of their offices while Obama and the Democrats shoved this so called Affordable plan down our throats, we got our first big blast of what happens when the Feds get involved in States Rights issues.

So why not get out of our "imposing" Socialist Law Enforcement, Socialistic Military, Socialistic Firefighters, Socialistic Education, and while we're at it sell our Social Security (very Socialistic) to Wall Street. You can't run a society like a business. A society needs to be managed not controlled. And I bet you consider yourself a "good Christian" too. I hope you've taken good care of your future and won't need any assistance from those "imposed" Socialistic Safety Net(s) in your old age.

There will never be agreement on a healthcare program...Might get lucky with a consensus. Just don't force people to by insurance or pay a fine for not buying insurance. I agree that there are many persons which need health insurance and that there are many more that will take advantage of the program.....unscrupulous doctors, lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, and dirt bags throughout the country. Insurance companies make money on healthy persons. Any national healthcare program is going to provide insurance t those which are considered uninstallable. That means the costs are going to be high.... very high! Oh High Costs! Could it be possible to find a way to reduce the profits on those drugs and procedures Everyone seems to need. Just stop screwing the people that wish to carry what they minimally need and are willing to pay for.

RGB - Its called a "Single Payer" System. Everyone should pay period. If you have a job, a percentage will be taken out specifically for healthcare. Wow!!!! What a concept - we Americans won't have to worry about going broke because "God Forbid" we get sick or have an accident. Sadly the Right don't believe in healthcare being a right. Its a Privileged that only THEY should have. America - HOME OF THE BRAVE - LAND OF THE GREEDY

Neither Senator needs to soil his name or reputation by voting for this fraudulent piece of junk.

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