Florida leads the nation in sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act with the deadline coming on Sunday and the number of people enrolled could reach near the 2 million mark.
Of the more than 1.6 million Floridians who have signed up for Obamacare or had their coverage automatically renewed since last November, approximately 600,000 policies were from South Florida.
Almost 300,000 Floridians getting coverage came from central Florida which includes the Orlando – Melbourne area, and another 260,000 Floridians came from the Tampa Bay area.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says Florida represents a little more than a sixth of the 8.8 million Americans nationwide who have signed up or had their coverage renewed.
The Affordable Care Act remains a polarizing topic in an election year and here in the state of Florida it remains something that really cuts along party lines. The Democrats want to fix what is wrong with the law while the Republicans want to repeal and replace the law.
Meanwhile, after over five years attempting repeal the law, the Republicans have not come up with one viable alternative as we head into the 2016 Presidential Campaign cycle.
We have heard two main narratives when the GOP has been trying to get rid of Obamacare. The first being that it is a job killer and the second that small business wanted no part of the law that has now been on the books for over five years.
According to a report in Forbes Magazine one of the most respected and conservative media outlets in the news business there simply is no evidence to prove that Obamacare is a job killer. The publication stated that when the ACA went into effect back in 2010 the country was in a much different financial situation with an economy that was almost as bad as the great depresion.
Now the economy looks drastically different than in March 2010 with more than 11 million jobs have been created, and the unemployment rate has been cut nearly in half according to the Forbes report.
We have had a stunning total of 63 consecutive months of job growth in this country. To put that more plainly: The private sector hasn’t lost jobs since Obamacare was officially created.
Now there certainly is a discussion to be had about the quality and pay of the jobs that were created early in the recovery, particularly those in the service industry. But a stage full of Republicans saying the ACA is responsible for job losses when we haven’t had net job loss nearly five years reeks of cynicism. Even the percentage of Americans who work part time but want full time work — another criticism of the Obama Administration — has declined.
So the job killer issue is a non starter. Let me give you two examples of small business owners here in the state who actually benefited by the Affordable Care Act.
The Palm Beach Post recently had a story about Sherry Riggs who owns a small barbershop in West Palm Beach. She is in her 1950’s and is a big fan of the Affordable Care Act, because she has a pre-existing heart condition.
Without the law she said she thinks she knows what her fate might be. “I’d be dead,” Riggs told the Post. I suffered for years and despite owning my own successful small business I simply was unable to buy insurance because of my pre-existing condition.
The Miami Herald offered another example of a small business owner who benefitted his experience with Obamacare. 33 year old David Mendoza, owns his a small tree trimming business in Coral Gable and he has insurance — an Affordable Care Act plan he signed up for in December that costs him about $50 a month with some financial aid.
“I was going to start cutting to bring it down branch, like many of the jobs I do,” he said, “when all of a sudden the chainsaw slipped,” Mendoza told the Herald.
The chain saw tore a four- to five-inch gash in Mendoza’s left forearm. He was rushed to the emergency room at Mercy Hospital, where doctors cleaned the wound and sewed it up.
He followed up with a hand specialist and a two-hour surgery the next day to repair five torn tendons and a pinched nerve. He will need six weeks of physical rehabilitation. Full recovery will probably take about six months.
The plan covers almost all of his medical care. His out-of-pocket costs for the care he has received to date: $4 for prescription medications to ease the pain.
“Honestly,” said Mendoza’s wife, Islara Souto, “if this would have happened when we were not covered, we would have been bankrupt. This was a major surgery with a top doctor.”
There can be no denying that the ACA, Obamcare, take your choice of what to call it has plenty of flaws and could use some work. There are plenty of Democrats that would like to see the law reworded and if their Republican counterparts in Congress were willing to work with them then we might just be able to get a healthcare law we can all live with in 2017 and beyond.
Thanks to Forbes, the Palm Beach Post and the Miami Herald for the excepts used in the writing of this story.