Health Care Battle Continues to Shape Florida Politics

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 20, 2013 3:55 AM

Joe Garcia and Slade O'Brien

Joe Garcia and Slade O'Brien | Credit (left to right): watchdogwire.com; americansforprosperity.org

Florida can expect a familiar political battle in 2014 as the Tea Party and Democrats are gearing up to clash again over President Barack Obama’s health care law.

On Monday, conservative Americans for Prosperity’s (AFP) Florida chapter announced they would be leading protests outside of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s, D-Fla., offices in Fort Myers, Orlando and Tampa on Tuesday to protest his support of Obama’s law.

“Obamacare is hurting families, killing jobs and costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year,” insisted Slade O’Brien, the state director for AFP. “Senator Nelson needs to hear from his constituents about this terrible law -- a law he voted for and has continued to support despite the negative affects it has already had, and will continue to have, on Floridians.”

O’Brien insisted the law was not helping most residents of the Sunshine State while it helped certain interests. 

“The administration has granted hundreds of waivers to their favored businesses and organizations, removing the burdensome requirements of this law for the politically connected,” O’Brien said. “Congress has been given special treatment as well. The IRS has asked for an exemption, as have scores of union leaders. Businesses have been given a year delay from the mandate they provide insurance for employees. But regular Floridians are still required to abide by this train wreck of a law. Everyone seems to know this law is a disaster, except the politicians like Senator Nelson that continue to support it.”

After Obama signed the law in 2010, then-Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum launched a constitutional challenge to it which was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012. That year also saw Republicans continue to attack the law, demanding its repeal. But Obama won Florida as he went on to win a second term while Nelson easily fended off the challenge of Republican Senate candidate Connie Mack.

But Florida Democrats, including one who can expect a tough election battle next year, continue to show signs they are willing to engage over the health care law. Freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., is a top target for Republicans in 2014 but he showed no signs of retreating from his support of the law on Monday.

“The Republicans in the House of Representatives have now voted over 30 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” Garcia wrote supporters on Monday. “Their latest strategy to prevent millions of Americans from receiving health care services is to threaten to shut down the government if Congress does not act to defund Obamacare.

“Shutting down the government would impede upon essential government services [such] as Medicare and Social Security -- slowing or potentially preventing the delivery of these critical services,” Garcia insisted. “It could also prevent veterans from receiving necessary health services.”

Promising Democrats would not let the government shut down, Garcia ripped Republicans for “trying to hold our economy hostage with these dangerous political games.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com.

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