Obamacare Continues to Divide Florida Delegation on Party Lines

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: July 24, 2014 3:55 AM
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ander Crenshaw, Kathy Castor

Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ander Crenshaw, Kathy Castor

Even though it's been four years since it passed, President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law is still continuing to divide Florida’s congressional delegation on party lines. 

This week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, pointed to two conflicting federal appeals court rulings over subsidies in President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law and said it proved the law was badly written.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in a 2-1 decision that the IRS overextended subsidies for Americans who bought health care through the federal government’s online marketplace. But, later in the day, in another case, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the subsidies, ensuring the matter will be examined higher up the federal judiciary ladder.

“Once again, a court ruling against Obamacare has reminded us that this law was poorly conceived, poorly written, and has been poorly executed by an Obama administration that believes it can just make up and change the rules as it goes,” Rubio said on Tuesday. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg with a law that’s also destined to either crush patients with obscenely high costs, lead to a taxpayer bailout of health insurance companies, or both. Obamacare is a bad piece of public policy that needs to be repealed and replaced.

“With two conflicting appellate court rulings on Obamacare today, I reaffirm my belief that this law ultimately will fall apart,” Rubio added.

But U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., also weighed in on the matter, insisting that the health-care law continues to work. Castor noted that Florida has the highest number of enrollments who used the federal marketplace, with 893,655 of the 983,775 enrollees receiving tax credits.

“Floridians are at the mercy of the rigid ideology of Republican Gov. Rick Scott and legislators who refused to set up a Florida marketplace, expand health services to a million Floridians under Medicaid and even took away the insurance commissioner's ability to oversee insurance company rate increases,” Castor said on Tuesday. “Hopefully, on appeal, the hundreds of thousands of our neighbors who finally have affordable health insurance will maintain access to their valuable tax credits.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), gave the decisions mixed marks, praising the 4th Circuit judge for upholding the subsidies and insisting the D.C. Court of Appeals’ decision will be appealed.
“Today the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rightly affirmed consumers’ ability to access health-care subsidies regardless of the type of marketplace operating in their state,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I am confident that the D.C. Court of Appeals’ decision will be appealed and eventually overturned because people should not be penalized when their governors and legislatures refuse to set up state-run exchanges. Congress created a two-tiered system to ensure that Americans living in states where elected officials refused to set up a state exchange, would have access to the same quality, affordable health care coverage as Americans covered by state exchanges. Nearly three dozen states – the vast majority of which are Republican-controlled -- put politics before people and did not create their own exchanges, leaving their citizens to rely instead on the federal exchange." 
Wasserman Schultz said the law was helping Floridians and said a higher court would ponder the two rulings.

“If the D.C. court’s ruling were final it would create a horrible, disparate system of haves and have nots in Florida and nationwide that Congress clearly did not intend,” she said. “The two decisions could not be more stark, and as this issue makes its way through the judicial system I believe the ultimate ruling will come down in favor of Congress's clear intent: that the American people should have the ability to access affordable, quality health insurance no matter where they live.”

For his part, U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw, R-Fla., part of the Republican majority that controls the House, applauded the D.C. court’s decision against Obamacare, insisting it pushed back against Obama dictating how the law should be managed.

“While the president repeatedly reaches around Congress and the Constitution, my duty is to protect and defend it. That’s why I agree with this federal appeals court decision and applaud it as a helpful step toward stopping his egregious executive branch overreach,” Crenshaw said on Wednesday. “The ruling effectively says ‘no’ to the administration’s circumvention of states and Congress to establish Obamacare subsidies when states specifically choose not to.

“Obamacare has been a legal and economic fiasco from the start, and I stand 100 percent against it as well as the president’s style of governing,” Crenshaw added. “It’s why I voted against the flawed law at the beginning and have voted more than 50 times since to defund, dismantle, and repeal it.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com. 

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