Gov. Scott blasts Obamacare, ups heat on Senate he may try to join

BOCA RATON — Florida Gov. Rick Scott stood by his call to repeal the Affordable Care Act Wednesday, a day after a U.S. Senate effort to accomplish either repeal or replacement appeared to be on life support.

“We’ve got to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something that’s going to drive down costs,” Scott said during an appearance in Boca Raton. “Costs are the problem.”

President Donald Trump, after tweeting “let Obamacare fail” Tuesday, returned to the topic Wednesday, before a meeting with Republican senators. He urged them not to give up, saying Republicans remain “very close” to delivering on a campaign promise to repeal and replace the health law.

“The Republicans never discuss how good their healthcare bill is, & it will get even better at lunchtime,” Trump tweeted. “The Dems scream death as OCare dies!”

Groups opposing Scott, who is expected to run for U.S. Senate against Democrat Bill Nelson, hope to make it an awkward issue for him.

“Whether it’s Trumpcare or repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, Rick Scott is stuck with a cruel plan to take away health care from millions — like gum stuck to a shoe,” said American Bridge spokesperson Joshua Karp. “Despite Trumpcare’s collapse in the Senate, Scott helped write the bill and supported disastrous ACA repeals to rip away coverage from Americans who desperately need it, and Florida voters will hold him responsible.”

Just last month, as the battle over Obamacare shifted to the U.S. Senate, Scott traveled to D.C. precisely to lobby for repeal and replacement legislation.

Scott met with Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

On Wednesday, Scott doubled down on his Obamacare criticism. saying, “I think you’ve got to understand Obamacare’s been a disaster. It’s caused health care prices to skyrocket. “

Consumers on Florida’s Affordable Care Act marketplace who make too much money to get government subsidies face the full impact of annual rate increases including an average increase of about 19 percent in 2017.

But about nine out of 10 of Florida’s approximately 1.5 million marketplace customers receive government financial help to blunt rate increases, meaning they barely see any increase in the monthly premium they pay, averaging about $84. For them, repeal instead means losing those subsidies and facing sharply higher costs.

A House replacement plan would restrain spending by more than $700 billion for Medicaid compared to current law, affecting 4 million Florida children, disabled and seniors in nursing homes. It would leave 23 million Americans without coverage compared to leaving current law in place, the Congressional Budget Office said.

The initial Senate replacement plan, since stalled, would also cap Medicaid spending as it pushed 22 million out of coverage, CBO said. Like the House plan, it would produce projected budget savings — about $321 billion over 10 years in the Senate’s case, CBO said.

Scott called for more flexibility to run the state’s Medicaid programs, including setting reimbursement rates: “The federal government doesn’t need to be involved.”

The governor was in town to highlight job growth at Orangetheory Fitness, a national fitness franchise headquartered in Boca Raton. He took questions on other topics afterward.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said he will move forward next week with a vote on his measure to repeal the law, effective in two years, with a promise to work on a plan to replace it in the meantime.

That might prove difficult as Senate Republicans cannot afford more than two holdouts but seem to have more than that. Among them: three GOP women — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — who say they are opposed.

Small-government advocacy group Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning urged McConnell to push ahead: “After almost a decade of campaigning against Obamacare, it would be legislative malfeasance not to finally have a vote in the Senate putting every Senator on the record for where they stand.”

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