We elected a president last year, which means D.C. politicians spent 12 whole months treating Floridians and their precious electoral votes like delicate French dauphins, catering to our every whim and promising us things like jobs, endangered species protections, and a sea that won't swallow and drown us in a hundred years.
Now that the election season is over, many of those same politicians have done a full 180 and now appear ready to risk letting some Miamians straight-up die this year. House Republicans last week approved a budget that would let Congress fully repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (also known as Obamacare). House GOP members have proposed no suitable replacement, so if the law is repealed right now, an estimated 18 million people could lose their health coverage.
The nation's highest concentration of Obamacare users is right here in Miami, according to recently released data. That means more people in the Magic City — upward of 365,000 — will lose basic health care due to the GOP vote than in any other city in the nation.
The new data comes from a nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation study. The data was broken down by congressional district, and according to the map, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's District 27, which stretches from Homestead to Hialeah, contains 96,300 Obamacare marketplace users, the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in one district in the nation.
According to an analysis by McClatchy's D.C. news bureau, the ten highest-enrollment districts are all in Florida, and the top four sit in Miami-Dade County. Rep. Frederica Wilson's district includes 94,100 enrollees, followed by Rep. Carlos Curbelo's 92,500 and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's 83,000.
According to the foundation's data, Florida leads every state in terms of marketplace enrollment. As of December, 1,634,614 Floridians obtained their health care from an Obamacare marketplace, outpacing larger states such as California and Texas by hundreds of thousands of people.
So how are Florida Republicans treating their health-care-dependent constituents? By overwhelmingly voting to gut the ACA. Last week, New Times reported that U.S. senator and wispy cloud of nothingness Marco Rubio voted to gut Obamacare without a replacement. On Friday, not a single Florida Republican voted against the House's measure to begin tearing apart the ACA by January 27.
Obamacare is certainly a flawed program. But given the fact that neither major party is willing to fight for single-payer health care right now, the law could have at least been improved with a series of legal tweaks and adjustments to keep premiums lower or expand the coverage base. Instead, Republicans are marching toward a full-on repeal. Unless the GOP actually brings a possible replacement plan to the table, the Grand Old Party is effectively committing an act of violence against the nation's poor.
You are, after all, statistically more likely to die early if you don't have health insurance.
So what will thousands of Miamians lose if the law is repealed? It's not just health coverage: The ACA also regulates things such as referral-free OB/GYN visits, so women can see a gynecologist without having to first consult a primary care physician. The bill also helped cut down surprise emergency-room costs, while giving women more rights to pump breast milk at work, forcing hospitals to respond to the needs of their communities, and offering expanded coverage to people caring for the autistic.
But even if the Obamacare repeal doesn't hit Miamians in the heart, spleen, lungs, or kidneys, it will most certainly hit them in their wallets. Study after study confirms that lower- and middle-class Miamians are some of the most financially squeezed citizens in America — and a congressional study released today warned that insurance premiums could double in ten years if Obamacare is repealed outright.
Congresspeople are already sneaking out through back doors to avoid the wash of anger getting hurled at them for repealing the law. Good luck ripping those rights from Miamians before turning up here again in 2020.