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Politics

Florida Democrats Double Down on Obamacare

April 20, 2014 - 6:00pm
Florida Democrats are increasingly defending President Barack Obamas federal health-care law even as polls continue to show it remains unpopular with voters at the national level.

From her perch as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., doubled down on her support of the law during an appearance on NBCs Meet the Press on Sunday morning. Speaking to NBCs David Gregory, Wasserman Schultz rejected the idea that Obamas health-care law would hurt Democrats at the ballots in November. Pointing to Democratic senators trying to keep their seats and control of the chamber, Wasserman Schultz noted 8 million Americans have signed up for the health-care program though she admitted it does have its flaws.

"This is a law that's working for millions of people," Wasserman Schultz said. "And as we discover there are problems, we should work together to solve those problems."

Gregory noted that prominent Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who is up for re-election in November, have called for amending the law. Shaheen also has recently said she would have crafted the law differently.

"That's Legislation 101, Wasserman Schultz fired back. I mean, that is how we have handled laws and their evolution throughout American history."

The congresswoman looked to play up both her support of the law and the need to change it. "The president is right, and Jeanne Shaheen is right," Wasserman Schultz insisted.

Wasserman Schultz is not the only Democrat playing up her support of Obamas health-care law in recent days. Despite having spent most of his political life as a Republican, former Gov. Charlie Crist is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Rick Scott in November. Crist is playing up his support of Obamas health-care law even as former Florida Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich continues to attack him for his previous conservative positions and demands a debate.

President Barack Obama announced that 8 million Americans have signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, Crist informed supporters at the end of last week. That's great news!

But we can do more, Crist continued. 1.1 million working Floridians are left waiting because Rick Scott refuses to expand coverage. I want to fix that.

Scotts team has no problem trying to tie Crist to Obamas health-care law. At the end of last week, Matt Moon, a spokesman for the Scott team, looked to lash Crist to the law, noting that the White House had been planning to cut Medicare Advantage to pay for it.

How much will cuts to Medicare Advantage all to pay for Obamacare hurt Florida seniors?" Moon asked in an email to the media sent out last week. According to a new report from the American Action Forum, Floridians enrolled in Medicare Advantage face an annual cut of $1,475.78 compared to pre-Obamacare levels.

Let's put that into context, Moon continued. As of January of this year, the average monthly grocery bill of an American 71 years old or above (assuming a low-cost food plan) is at least $200. That means the cut in Medicare Advantage benefits Florida seniors face equates to seven months' worth of groceries.

A new poll shows the health-care law remains unpopular, though according to Rasmussen Reports the law is more popular than it has been since October. The poll of likely voters finds 45 percent of those surveyed see the law at least somewhat favorably while 51 percent see it as unfavorable. Only 21 percent see the law as very favorable while 38 percent see it as very unfavorable. The poll of 1,000 likely voters across the nation was taken from April 19-20 and had a margin of error of +/- 3 percent.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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