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Four Years Later, Florida Delegation Still Split on Party Lines Over Obamacare

March 23, 2014 - 7:00pm

Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of President Barack Obama signing his federal health-care proposal into law. While Obama and his allies in Florida defended the law over the weekend, Republicans from the Sunshine State continued to attack it.

Obama praised the law on Sunday, insisting its helped Americans.

Since I signed the Affordable Care Act into law, the share of Americans with insurance is up, and the growth of health-care costs is down, to its slowest rate in 50 years two of the most promising developments for our middle class and our fiscal future in a long time, Obama said. More Americans with insurance have gained new benefits and protections the 100 million Americans whove gained the right to free preventive care like mammograms and contraception, the 8 million seniors whove saved thousands of dollars on their prescription drugs, and the untold number of families who wont be driven into bankruptcy by out-of-pocket costs, because this law prevents insurers from placing dollar limits on the care you can receive.

More Americans without insurance have gained coverage, Obama continued. Over the past four years, over 3 million young Americans have been able to stay on their family plans. And over the past five and a half months alone, more than 5 million Americans have signed up to buy private health insurance plans on plans that can no longer discriminate against pre-existing conditions or charge you more just because youre a woman or a cancer survivor and millions more have enrolled in Medicaid.

But Republicans from Florida continued their push against the health-care law. Then-state Attorney General Bill McCollum launched a constitutional challenge against the law which was rejected on a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court back in 2012.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., released a Web video in which he stressed his opposition to the law.

What has happened and has changed about Obamacare is its no longer something people are hearing about on the news, its something that theyre now feeling in their lives, Rubio said. Obamacare has gone from being something political, to something personal.

Personal because now people can no longer continue to see the doctors theyve been seeing for a long time, Rubio added. They can no longer continue to go to the specialty center that is caring for them. Theyve lost the health insurance they were happy with. Theyre paying higher premiums, or a much higher deductible. Maybe its cost them their job, maybe its cost them hours at work or maybe theyre suffering from all of the above.

Thats why we cannot give up on our efforts, not just to completely repeal Obamacare, but to replace it with real market-based solutions that allow every single American to have the ability to buy affordable health insurance that meets their needs, and to buy it from any company in America that will sell it to them. Were going to have a chance to achieve that soon, Rubio said. We cannot give up.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), insisted the health-care law marked a major, historic milestone on the journey to build a more perfect Union as she defended it on Sunday.

The law has already benefited millions of Americans, and will continue to do so as enrollment increases, full benefits are realized, and the cost curve bends even further, Wasserman Schultz said. There is no getting around these facts for the detractors and naysayers who are incapable of accepting Obamacare as the law of the land and instead continue to put politics before people.

Women and survivors of major diseases can now secure health-care coverage without being discriminated against for having a pre-existing condition, Wasserman Schultz added. Young adults can stay on their parents insurance until age 26. Getting sick will no longer threaten families with bankruptcy. And seniors are saving thousands of dollars on prescription drugs and are now eligible for Medicare preventative services like mammograms, colonoscopies, and annual wellness visits without having to pay co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles.

I am proud to have been a part of the Congress that finally ensured that health care is a right rather than a privilege, Wasserman Schultz concluded. These are real benefits for millions of people, and with each coming year, when even more Americans are covered and benefiting from the reforms of Obamacare, I am wholly confident we will be living in a healthier, more economically secure nation.

But Republicans who control the U.S. House continue to call for the repeal of the law, including U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., who boasted about voting against the law more than 50 times.

Four years ago, the president signed Obamacare into law, and Americans have seen nothing but broken promises since. If you like your health care, youll be able to keep it, he told the nation, while also claiming families would save thousands of dollars on health-care premiums, Crenshaw said. The real picture: individuals and families have been turned away from their insurance; premiums and deductibles have increased; and weve seen strings of delays as well as problems with the programs official website.

My bottom line: Americans deserve true choice and cost-effective health care that wont harm the economy, raise taxes, or bankrupt our childrens and grandchildrens futures, Crenshaw added. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has not delivered the results America needs -- more choice and higher quality of care without damage to the economy. Thats the direction I will continue to move in on behalf of my constituents and all Americans.

But Obama showed no signs of retreating from his signature law.

Last month, after her first wellness visit under her new insurance plan, a woman from Colorado shared with me what that peace of mind meant to her, Obama said. After using my new insurance for the first time, you probably heard my sigh of relief from the White House, she wrote. I felt like a human being again. I felt that I had value.

This is whats at stake any time anyone, out of some outdated obsession, pledges to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act, Obama said. And thats why my administration will spend the fifth year of this law and beyond working to implement and improve on it.

Reach Kevin Derby at

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