With the reelection of President Barack Obama, Florida’s Republican leaders are reconsidering their fervent opposition to federal healthcare reform, triggering a discussion that could have huge repercussions for South Florida.
At stake is more than $6 billion in federal funding for Miami-Dade and Broward over the next decade and the possibility of health insurance for a large percentage of the 1.4 million people in the two counties who now lack coverage.
After the defeat of Mitt Romney, who vowed to halt Obama’s healthcare overhaul, the Republican leaders of the Florida House and Senate quickly said the Legislature needed to reexamine the federal act. On Friday evening, Gov. Rick Scott said he agreed there needed to be a discussion.
“Just saying ‘no’ is not an answer,” Scott said in a statement that repeated exactly what Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Destin, the incoming Senate president, told The Miami Herald on Thursday.
“I don’t like this law,” Gaetz also said, “but this is the law, and I believe I have a constitutional obligation to carry it out.” He added that he thinks “there needs to be some adult debate between Republicans and Democrats” on finding ways to make the law work.
Still, Gaetz, Scott and others in the Republican leadership, which controls both the Florida House and Senate, have many criticisms of what both parties now call “Obamacare.” Some are searching for compromises on how it is carried out in the state. What this means for patients and the healthcare industry in Florida — particularly South Florida — remains an enormous question mark.
Time is running short for decisions as the once-distant consequences of the Affordable Care Act are scheduled to kick in during the next 14 months.