If it were a novel, it might be entitled, “A Tale of Two Florida Republicans.”
It might start off something like this: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of Obamacare, it was the age of repeal and replace..”
So goes the story of two Florida Republicans leaders who, just a few years back, both despised the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Today, one is in the nation’s Capitol to help lead the charge to dump the ACA. The other now has a different view.
Governor Rick Scott is in Washington, D.C., for this week’s debate on a health care bill drafted by Senate Republicans that is intended to replace the ACA. Scott plans “to meet with Congressional leaders to provide input on how we can make the bill better for Floridians.“
It’s an opportunity for Scott to be part of the national debate on one of the nation’s more volatile political issues.
“Let’s remember, costs have skyrocketed under Obamacare and we need a new health care policy that allows patients to have access to quality health care at an affordable price,” Scott said in a statement released on Friday.
For another Florida Republican, the politics of health care are different than they were when he was elected to congress four years ago.
In an interview on MSNBC Monday night, Former Pinellas Congressman David Jolly says he was angry with Obamacare when he first ran for office.
“I lost my doctor and I lost my plan in 2013, and I was angry about Obamacare, and I ran for Congress,” Jolly said. “But in 2017, as an unemployed person with a pre-existing condition, I knew Obamacare was there as a safety net if me and my wife needed it.”
Jolly lost his reelection bid last fall to Democrat Charlie Crist. When he left office in January he was unemployed and without health coverage. While he ultimately chose a private sector health care plan this year, he knew Obamacare was always an option that “if I had to rely on it, I knew it was there.”
He’s not the only one to take a more positive view of the ACA.
A survey released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows 51 percent of Americans now support the health care law compared to 41 percent who do not. It is the first time since the foundation began tracking people’s opinions of the law that support has surpassed the 50 percent mark.
For Scott, the former head of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain, Obamacare remains a “terrible, expensive mess” that he wants to help dismantle.
It’s also widely believed that Scott wants to run for the U.S. Senate next year, challenging Democrat Bill Nelson who has held the seat since 2001 and is seeking his fourth term.
His visit to D.C. gives him the opportunity to be on the same political platform as Nelson.
On Scott’s calendar for Tuesday are meetings with various U.S. senators, including Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Marco Rubio. He was also scheduled to meet with Vice President Mike Pence.
There were no meetings scheduled with Nelson.