Politics

Marc Caputo: Delay Obamacare? No way, say Florida Democrats

 

mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com

It’s tough to find an Obamacare success story.

But one of them — Plantation resident Carolyn Newman — found her local congresswoman, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz touting her case to push back against Republican criticisms that the Affordable Care Act is a failure because of the problems plaguing its website.

“Obamacare is working,” Wasserman Schultz told reporters Saturday. “It’s working, and when we get the website kinks ironed out, we’re going to make that everybody has access to quality affordable care.”

A 50-year-old cancer survivor, Newman got a letter from insurer Florida Blue that informed her Sept. 26 that it was canceling her high-risk plan.

But then came the good news, she said: The plan they were offering had more benefits and a significantly lower monthly premium cost, $640.82 — 49 percent less than she pays now.

“I think I’m going to frame that letter,” Newman told the Herald in a recent interview.

“I didn’t have to shop the marketplace,” she said. “I got the letter in the mail.”

A registered Democrat, Newman said she voted for President Barack Obama in great part because of his healthcare plan.

How many people are in Newman’s situation, where they’ll pay less, is unclear.

Florida Blue won’t say.

The insurer recently announced it was canceling plans for about 300,000 recipients, but it’s informing customers about “migrating” to new Obamacare-compliant coverage plans.

Some people might pay more, in great part because the Affordable Care Act mandates more types of coverage that can raise the cost of a plan.

Other people, who had pre-existing conditions for instance, might pay less.

Meantime, ever since the Obamacare sign-up website launched Oct. 1, it has barely worked.

Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have called both Obamacare and the website a failure.

Rubio said the law — which would eventually penalize many of those who don’t buy health insurance next year — should be delayed until the website is fixed.

“It’s not fair to punish anyone for not buying ObamaCare when the website they are supposed to buy it on doesn’t work,” Rubio said last week in a written statement. He intends to submit a bill Monday.

Rubio’s fellow Florida senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, said he and the Republican are friends. But he doesn’t back the effort to delay the Affordable Care Act.

“No, no, no, no. I don’t want to delay the ACA,” Nelson said.

But until it’s fixed?

“Oh forget it,” he said. “That’s ridiculous. That’s ridiculous, ridiculous.”

Nelson, echoing Wasserman Schultz, said Obamacare is working and that the sign-up website is just one part of the act.

However, he said, those responsible for the website’s failures should eventually be fired or held accountable.

Asked twice whether she agreed with Nelson, Wasserman Schultz wouldn’t say.

But she made sure to comment on Rubio, whom she bashed throughout the weekend as “make it up Marco.”

Wasserman Schultz said Republicans are “transparent” in their efforts to undermine Obamacare and that Rubio’s measure is more of the same.

“That’s just baloney,” she said.

“They want to do everything they can to delay, repeal, strangle it in the crib, tear it out by root and branch. It’s just whatever the flavor of the month is for stopping people from getting access to quality affordable healthcare. And that is the only thing we should be focused on right now: making sure that we fully and completely implement the Affordable Care Act so people can do just that, get access to its benefits.”

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