By Warner Todd Huston
As the State of Florida continues to be one of the nation’s key bellwether states it has also become a major swing state with Democrats seeming to have increased their presence in a state that has until recently seemed a bit more solidly red. This means that by 2020, Florida could become one of the most important states in the county.
Florida is still a growing state and by the coming 2020 census there is little doubt it will be found to have grown even more. With this growth the state will likely increase its current 29 votes in the Electoral College — the third most votes in the country — making the Sunshine State one of the most influential states in the Union.
Some feel this makes Florida a lock for the Republicans. But we must not forget that Donald Trump only took Florida away from Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton by a scant margin of one percent. So, all eyes will be on this important state in the coming election cycles. Truly what happens in Florida has national implications.
The state boasts several high profile Republicans, of course. Former Gov. and presidential candidate Jeb Bush hails from Florida, as does Marco Rubio who has become nearly household name. But the state is also home to Rep. Ron DeSantis, a congressman and legislative leader who does much of the heavy lifting in Congress for the state.
A key battle for the next few years will be the fight to reign in Obamacare and to fix America’s health care system and Rep. DeSantis has a far better record on the issue than most in Washington. Health care is critical to both Florida and the nation economically, demographically and politically and DeSantis has been a leading voice on the issue.
As Obamacare collapses across the nation, nowhere has felt the pain more than Florida. Recently the Miami Herald published some frightening news on the matter.
Health insurance companies sorely underestimated the costs of covering Florida’s newly insured on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange at healthcare.gov, leading to fewer choices and higher premiums for many consumers, according to a new study by a Florida State University professor released Thursday.
But with Donald Trump and the Republican Party taking Washington by storm, the issue was supposed to become a priority. Unfortunately, the whole debate has bogged down.
The repeal and replacement of Obamacare seemed to start out strong. The American Health Care Act (ACHA) was advanced by GOP leaders in Congress, endorsed by President Trump, and moved through several Congressional committees. But it wasn’t long before many realized it was a flawed piece of legislation since day one. Rep. DeSantis was a major voice calling attention to the problems inherent in the bill.
Since its failure DeSantis also noted that his constituents told him they did not favor the bill and were “frustrated” with what was being offered.
“Voters are frustrated with the product that was produced,” he said.
DeSantis has also noted that the GOP is facing some stark political realities. If the GOP proposal does not address the concerns of real people, there will be major trouble at the ballot box.
“How can you look at someone who’s really happy with their Obamacare coverage and promise it’ll be there three years from now,” he said. On the other hand, he’s not certain the GOP alternative “would serve to reduce cost, which is what we promised.”
Conservative leaders, Congressional leaders, and even the White House are gearing up to get even more involved in devising the next stage of the American Health Care Act. But the debate is still fraught with questions. According to NBC News over 180 congressmen expressed their reservations about the ACHA changes and a recent New York Times article warned Republicans that some changes may work against its best interests.
Repealing many of Obamacare’s most cumbersome mandates is definitely a good idea and some think that HHS Secretary Tom Price can make some moves on his own to alleviate some of Obamacare’s vexing problems. But as Republican policy analyst Kerrie Rushton recently noted, Republicans need to avoid one alarming possibility.
More specifically, the bill allows state governments to apply for waivers from certain Obamacare regulations, such as essential health benefits (EHB) and price controls. Not all states will apply for waivers, especially those with Democrats at the helm. But even when states do secure waivers, because the federal executive branch will issue them, these waivers can be reversed easily under a new administration. In other words, the next time a Democrat is elected president, Nebraska or Alabama or Texas will be stuck with Obamacare all over again — no matter who is governor.
So, where do we go from here?
Congressman DeSantis has a few ideas that would be key to the GOP make over of Obama’s disastrous health care law and he noted that a consensus is already near at hand.
“For me, the core thing we have to do is deliver lower premiums and more choice on private insurance, because that’s the reason why people dislike Obamacare. Their premiums have gone up and deductibles have gone up, [but] I think we can pass something relatively soon if we can get there,” the Congressman said.
This is exactly right. The fact is, if the next bill offered for debate leaves Obamacare in place, it will be a non-starter and a conservative leader like Rep. Ron DeSantis knows that full well.