Sen. Rubio, don’t throw Americans under the bus in the healthcare fight

Miami Herald Editorial Board

Sen. Marco Rubio represents the state with the most participants for the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Marco Rubio represents the state with the most participants for the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. AP

Dear Sen. Rubio,

Remember where you come from. You come from the state where, in 2015, more people signed up for the benefits of the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — than in any other. You come from Greater Miami, which has the most Obamacare participants of anywhere in the country.

Simply put, you come from Ground Zero.

The message is unmistakable: You have to care. Care enough to drop the rabid politics that drove Republicans’ side of this debate for almost eight years.

Care enough to realize that your constituents in Florida, and across the nation, are worried sick about the Trumpcare bill that the House passed last week.

Care enough to make clear to unenlightened colleagues that it’s no longer about thwarting President Obama’s every move, even at the expense of all in the name of common sense.

Care enough to stand up to the current president, as you promised you would when you ran for reelection, and to stand up for Americans’ health, well-being and peace of mind.

Among your Miami counterparts in the U.S. House, only Ileana Ros-Lehtinen remembered where she came from: “I will not support a bill that has the potential to severely harm the health and lives of people in South Florida, and therefore I remain steadfast in my commitment to vote NO on the AHCA. The recent addition of further funds to high risk pools continues to be inadequate and fails to cover those who need it most.”

“If enacted, the older and poorer South Floridians will be worse off and will find it more difficult to obtain quality healthcare. My constituents should not have to take a step backward in their ability to obtain treatment for any illness and thus, I will vote NO.”

And that’s just what she valiantly did. We salute her. And we’re pretty sure it’s what this principled woman would have done even if she weren’t retiring and, therefore, immune to any repercussions at the ballot box.

Obamacare is in no way perfect. Still, millions of Americans have received life-changing healthcare because of it. But instead of making it the foundation upon which to improve its deficiencies, lawmakers in the House gleefully — the post-vote optics were horrible — gutted protections for up to 24 million Americans.

The bill, passed 217-213 on a party line vote, spurns pre-existing conditions — pregnancy among them — possibly making people with cancer, heart disease or HIV/AIDS uninsurable for the rest of their (shortened) lives. Insurers companies can charge sick people higher premiums, where there now is a cap; Medicaid expansion is dead; Americans with employer-provided insurance are vulnerable, too.

It’s not hyperbole, no overstatement, to believe that those 217 lawmakers in the House are the real “death panels.”

Miami Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo voted for it. So did, for the record, Florida Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Ron DeSantis, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross, John Rutherford, Daniel Webster and Ted Yoho. Alrighty.

The Senate, purportedly Congress’ more deliberative, more adult chamber, is in the process of writing its own version of Trumpcare. Thirteen senators, not a woman among them, are charged with this task. You, Sen. Rubio, are not among them.

But when it comes time for you to make a difference, Sen. Rubio, remember where you come from.