Our Statement on the Repeal and Replace Failure

Reprinted from the Monday, March 27, 2017

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Florida can benefit from death of GOP healthcare plan | Opinion

The Board of Directors of Florida CHAIN wishes to acknowledge and applaud the hard work of the healthcare advocacy community throughout Florida in helping to defeat the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.  At the same time, we must caution that this is only a temporary setback to forces in our Federal and State government and others who remain opposed to truly affordable and accessible care for Floridians. Our mission at Florida CHAIN is mobilization, channeling and focusing efforts on crucial advocacy needs.

The traditional advocacy community has been bolstered by a re-awakening of individuals and groups of grassroots citizens throughout Florida who have contributed their time and energy in calling their representatives, showing up at town hall meetings, and making their voices heard in order to help defeat this legislation. These organic actions prove that there was an untapped well of goodwill for the ACA. Those opposed to the ACA will try again.  We must not lose sight of the reason it failed to come to a vote: a group of extreme conservatives felt the aborted bill didn’t go far enough in damaging the current system.

There is room for improvement of our healthcare delivery systems and insurance, and indeed, the ACA is not a perfect system.   The citizens of this country showed President Trump and Congress, through their loud voices of protest and reason, that replacing it with a program that does nothing to lower premiums and makes healthcare less accessible to people is not the plan they will ever support.

There will be more bad ideas to fight.  The AHCA plan put more of the burden on seniors instead of the wealthy and would have allowed 24 million Americans, including an estimated 1.8 million Floridians, to lose insurance. It would have created an “age tax” that would raise premiums in Florida by $1,922 annually for a 60-year-old, according to Community Catalyst, a leading national healthcare advocacy group.  Studies indicated the bill would have raised costs significantly for people ages 50 to 64 to compensate for the incentives that younger customers would get to buy insurance.

Many are waking up this morning asking, so what is the next step? We’ve got some ideas to share and we’ll be helping to put some of these plans into action with our state-wide partners and elected officials in DC and Tallahassee, and with all of your help.

~We need to push Democrats, Independents and supportive Republicans to support and sell good, reasonable ideas to moderate Republicans and build consensus.  Extreme partisanship benefits none of us.

~Push Donald Trump to do the right thing. Use some of the energy that was harnessed to reach out to him directly, perhaps with a letter writing campaign to encourage him, not attack him.  On Friday, the President was defensive, not up for taking responsibility and predicting doom for the ACA. His anger could prove short-lived if he can be convinced that there is an avenue for compromise, something that he can take credit for, because, after all, who doesn’t like to make a good deal once in a while?  As late as 2015, Trump was even supportive of single payer healthcare for all.

Which brings us to the matter of Rick Scott.  Our governor, up until the release of the first CBO report, was the most vocal supporter of AHCA, and then, …crickets.  Rick Scott is first and foremost a politician; one likely seeking higher office next year.  He watched the process that played out in Washington more closely than anyone, and certainly payed attention, while keeping his mouth mostly shut.  Rick Scott used to actually promote Medicaid expansion, until the more conservative legislative leadership shut it down.  By channeling our voices like was just accomplished, we can put that topic back on the table.  For all intents and purposes, the ACA, and Medicaid expansion, will remain the law of the land.  There is an awfully big pot of money out there if Florida chose to pursue it, a pot which Floridians helped provide with their taxes.  That influx of Federal dollars could help solve a ton of budget problems for Joe Negron, Jack Latvala, Richard Corcoran and Rick Scott.  Political realities seem to change day to day lately.  Let’s have that conversation, today.