Rubio a maybe, Nelson a no on Republican health care bill


Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will decide whether to support a Senate GOP health care bill “on the basis of how it impacts Florida,” his office said Thursday.

Rubio’s office characterized the just-unveiled legislation as a work in progress as four other Senate Republicans — Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin — issued a joint statement saying they are “not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor.”

Overturning former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law was a top campaign pledge of President Donald Trump and much of the GOP. The House has passed a version that Trump initially celebrated but later reportedly called “mean.”

Republicans hold a 52-seat majority in the Senate, so more than two GOP defections will doom the bill if Democrats are united against it.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who’s up for re-election next year, blasted the GOP legislation and the way it was drafted.

“Now we know why they tried to keep this secret,” Nelson said in a statement released by his office. “This bill is just as bad as the House bill, taking coverage away from millions of people and making huge cuts to Medicaid. If that weren’t enough, it also allows insurance companies to hike rates for older Americans. Fixing our nation’s health care system shouldn’t be a partisan issue. We should be working together, not plotting behind closed doors to make it worse.”

Rubio’s office said the senator has already spoken with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and invited their staffs to Washington to suggest changes. Rubio also wants to hear from health care providers, insurers and patient advocates, his office said.

Here’s the rest of the statement from Rubio’s office:

Rubio “has instructed his staff to share with state leaders the first draft and has asked them to run numbers and provide input on how this initial proposal would impact Florida’s Medicaid program and individual insurance marketplace. He has invited them to send staff to Washington next week to help us formulate changes and amendments to this proposal. He will continue to reach out for input and suggested changes from Florida providers, insurers and patient advocate groups.”



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