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South Florida lawmaker to bring Ft. Pierce woman 'saved' by Obamacare to Trump address
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel is bringing a South Florida woman who credits the Affordable Care Act with saving her life to Washington Tuesday night as a guest to watch President Donald Trump’s speech before the joint session of Congress, in hopes of pushing Republicans not to repeal the contentious federal health insurance law.
Frankel, of Boca Raton, said 55-year-old Sherry Riggs lost her health insurance after a divorce, and immediately signed up for coverage in Florida through ACA. She then underwent two major surgeries, including open-heart bypass.
“The Affordable Care Act saved my life twice and it continues to save it every day," said Riggs in a statement. "I don’t know what I would do without it and it’s very frightening."
Trump and Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal the ACA, but are at odds on how to replace it.
Riggs, a mother of three grown children, is still recovering from surgery and cannot work, and depends on ACA for medication and medical treatment for her ongoing heart condition, Frankel said.
Riggs will be joining Frankel Monday morning to “share her personal story, explaining what the ACA has meant to her and her family,” at a news conference at the Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach. The media event begins at 10 a.m.
In Florida, more than 1.6 million have enrolled in Obamacare through the federal health exchange, according to the latest federal government figures.
Last week, POLITICO obtained a copy of a proposed draft of the House Republican ACA repeal bill, and reported that it would dismantle the Obamacare subsidies and scrap its Medicaid expansion. The legislation would take down the foundation of Obamacare, including the unpopular individual mandate, subsidies based on people’s income, and all of the law’s taxes.
It also would significantly roll back Medicaid spending and give states money to create high risk pools for some people, like Rigggs, with pre-existing conditions. Some elements would be effective right away; others not until 2020.
The replacement would be paid for by limiting tax breaks on generous health plans people get at work — an idea that is similar to the Obamacare “Cadillac tax” that Republicans have fought to repeal.
Speaker Paul Ryan said last week that Republicans would introduce repeal legislation after recess. But the GOP has been deeply divided about how much of the law to scrap, and how much to “repair,” and the heated town halls back home during the weeklong recess aren’t making it any easier for them.
Another key piece of the Republican proposal: $100 billion in “state innovation grants” to help subsidize extremely expensive enrollees. That aims to address at least a portion of the “pre-existing condition” population, though without the same broad protections as in the ACA.
It also would eliminate Planned Parenthood funding, which could be an obstacle if the bill gets to the Senate. And it leaves decisions about mandatory or essential benefits to the states.
Republicans have vowed to dismantle Obamacare ever since it passed with only Democratic votes in 2010. But reaching agreement on what should come next has proven difficult since they gained full control of Congress and the White House.
Recent polling has shown that Obamacare is increasingly popular. Supporters of the health care law have been turning out by the hundreds at town hall meetings across the country to demand that Republicans answer questions about what’s going to happen to the 20 million individual who have gained coverage under Obamacare.
According to the latest Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll, released Friday morning, the public now views the Affordable Care Act more favorably than it has since the summer of its enactment.
Some 48 percent view the law favorably — up from 43 percent in December. About 42 percent have an unfavorable view of the ACA — down from 46 percent in December. The pollsters say Independents are mostly responsible for the shift. A separate poll by the Pew Research Center found 54 percent approve of the health care law — the highest scores for Obamacare in the poll's history. Meanwhile, 43 percent said they disapprove.