Florida conservatives are losing hope that Congress will make major health care reforms as the U.S. Senate takes up debate on repealing and replacing Obamacare.
“It’s clear that the states are where leadership is happening today on tough issues,” said Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers.
Caldwell said he was “50-50” on whether the Senate would manage to seriously dismantle the law. The path to overhauling Obamacare is still unclear but progress so far has been grim.
To even begin the process of repealing and replacing the lawTuesday, Senate Republicans had to lean on Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who flew back to Washington shortly after being diagnosed with brain cancer, and Vice President Mike Pence, who had to break a tie vote on whether to proceed with debate. Since then, senators have voted down both repeal and replace and simple repeal.
“I think a reform package of some sort will pass,” analyst Sal Nuzzo, of the conservative Tallahassee-based think tank James Madison Institute, saidWednesdayafter speaking to a civic group in Fort Myers about the federal health care plan. “But I don’t know that the final legislation will be comprehensive enough to do more than a minor shift in trajectory.”
Nuzzo said he was hopeful Congress would pass a bill that repeals Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates for insurance. The Congressional Budget Office scored the proposal that would contain those measures as well as a repeal of Obamacare’s medical device taxWednesdaynight and estimated the number of the uninsured could grow by an additional 16 million people if it passed. In addition, he said, states could start taking more control of the program through specific waivers.
For some, however, those measures aren’t enough.
“It’s a shame that with a Republican controlled House and Senate, we still can’t get a full repeal of Obamacare,” said Rep. Dane Eagle, R-Cape Coral. “I remain hopeful that they will be able to work together towards needed, meaningful changes to our mess of a health care system.”
“There are serious fixes to be made, but it’s overall a pretty good plan,” said William Weissert, a political scientist at Florida State University who focuses on health care policy.
Weissert said that instead of trying to repeal Obamacare, Congress should work to reduce its out-of-pocket costs, increase penalties for those who don’t buy health insurance and stabilize the insurance market.
While many are doubtful Congress will pass serious reform, one Florida Republican who has tried in vain to overhaul the state’s health care system remains hopeful.
“I’m an optimist!,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, wrote in a text.