Florida’s U.S. senators are split over their chamber’s GOP-led proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., announced their opposing views on the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, adding to the flurry of an uncertain future for the plan, which has been riddled with setbacks since its inception.

Florida’s junior senator, Marco Rubio, initially appeared uncertain whether or not he’d support the measure, which has yet to come up for a full vote on the Senate floor.

“Senate healthcare proposal needs changes before I vote yes,” Rubio tweeted on Sunday. 

The Florida Republican said he wouldn’t just cling to the bill blindly, noting there were several key proposals which needed to be placed in the measure before he pledged his support.

Among Rubio’s demands: more Medicaid funding for Florida’s hospitals, which provide health care services for the state’s low-income patients and allowing the option for catastrophic coverage, a type of high-deductible ACA plan for people under 30 qualifying for a “hardship exemption.” 

Rubio also said he wanted flexibility in Medicaid caps for public health emergencies like the Zika virus, which ravaged Florida in 2016.

When Thursday rolled around and the bill was released, Rubio announced he would be supporting the measure, joining his fellow Republicans in their crusade to get rid of the Affordable Care Act, which they believe is a deeply-flawed health care plan.

“The sooner we get to the floor and start the debate on the floor in front of the American people, the better off it’s going to be for everyone,” said Rubio.

Florida’s senior senator, Bill Nelson, however, would have none of what the GOP was selling, sharply criticizing the new healthcare proposal as a terrible idea for the American people.

“This latest Republican health care bill is just as bad as the previous versions,” said Nelson. “It makes huge cuts to Medicaid, allows insurance companies to hike rates for older Americans and will take coverage away from millions of people. We need to be working together to improve our nation’s health care system, not make it worse. If approved, this bill will hurt a lot of Floridians and for that reason alone,”

Nelson said he would oppose the measure.

According to the CBO, the original BCRA plan would have made drastic cuts to the country’s Medicaid program, slashing spending by $772 billion over 10 years. The plan also would have resulted in 15 million fewer Medicaid enrollees than exist under the ACA.

The CBO score on the new bill is expected to be released Monday or Tuesday. 

It’s uncertain if the Senate’s new healthcare proposal will actually make it onto the Senate floor for consideration, though. 

Two Republican senators have already announced they’re uneasy about the plan. Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., have both said they don’t intend on supporting the measure as it currently stands.

If one more GOP senator joined Collins and Paul and all Democrats voted against the measure, it’s lights out for the BCRA.

Once a procedural vote is completed, the proposal would be put up for a final vote the following week.

As for now, count Rubio “in” for the BCRA — and Nelson “out.”



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen.


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