Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell wants to make her congressional campaign against Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo about healthcare.
In formally launching her candidacy Wednesday, Mucarsel-Powell slammed Curbelo’s vote to replace the Affordable Care Act — a message that national Democrats plan to repeat across the country to try to unseat Republicans in 2018.
“It is inconceivable to me that politicians in D.C. are committed to stripping away healthcare access to millions of Americans,” Mucarsel-Powell said in her speech outside of West Perrine health center, where the poor can see doctors and get medicine.
She briefly addressed a Miami Herald story Tuesday questioning whether she actually lived in the Florida Keys as she claimed to last year, when she unsuccessfully ran for a state Senate seat. She wouldn’t say Wednesday how long she lived in Islamorada, where she cast her November ballot.
“I have spent months back and forth in Monroe County,” said Mucarsel-Powell, a Pinecrest resident. When asked what percentage of the time she actually lived in the Keys, she said, “If I count the days, I’m not sure; I go back and forth.”
Instead, Mucarsel-Powell preferred to call out Curbelo, who in May voted for the American Health Care Act, the House GOP plan to replace Obamacare.
“People are extremely disappointed he says one thing here and goes and does another thing in Washington, D.C.,” she said.
A liberal group, Save My Care, has already produced an ad targeting Curbelo and others for supporting a plan that would have let insurance companies charge even more for people over 50.
Curbelo represents the swing 26th Congressional District, which has one of the highest rates in the nation of people who get their insurance through Obamacare: about 92,500 people.
Democrats consider him a top national target, in part because Hillary Clinton beat President Donald Trump in the district by 16 percentage points. Curbelo, however, defeated Democrat Joe Garcia by 12 points the same day. He’s lined up Democrats to start fundraising for him this month ahead of next year’s election.
Curbelo struggled with his vote for the unpopular AHCA, refusing to divulge his position in advance as he made up his mind.
After efforts to repeal Obamacare died in the Senate in July, Curbelo called on Congress to put aside partisan politics and find a solution. He’s part of a 43-member “problem solvers” caucus that on Monday released a bipartisan healthcare proposal.
The plan calls for creating a stability fund that states can use to reduce health insurance premiums, requiring that businesses with more than 500 employees provide health insurance — instead of the current 50 employees — repealing the medical-device tax and providing guidelines for states that want flexibility in the existing insurance exchanges.
Miami Herald reporters Alex Daugherty and Patricia Mazzei contributed to this report.