Trump's gift to Florida Democrats

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Bidenomics is out. Obamacare is in.

Democrats are fired up about putting Republicans on the spot over health care after 2024 GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said recently he was “seriously looking at alternatives” to the Affordable Care Act and urged his party to “never give up” on terminating it.

Congressional Republicans failed to undo Obamacare under Trump, largely because they couldn’t agree on a replacement. Since then, Democrats have used Obamacare as an effective rallying cry to win elections by focusing on the popular parts of the law that would go away under GOP repeal, such as how it forbids insurers from turning away or out-pricing sicker customers.

Ahead of 2024, Democrats are vowing to protect and improve the law again, including former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.), who is running for the Democratic nomination to unseat Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.). In an interview, she accused Trump and Scott — who endorsed Trump — of wanting “to take away affordable health care from millions of Floridians.”

“This is an issue that will activate our voters in Florida to come out and vote … bring it on; let's talk about this issue,” she said.

Repealing a 13-year-old medical law would be complicated and take years, and some U.S. senators told POLITICO’s Burgess Everett that they had no interest. Obamacare’s reach is sprawling: It makes restaurant chains post menu item calories, mandates birth-control and other prevention coverage and allows adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26.

“You’ve got to put others on the spot about this,” said Rep. Darren Soto (D-Fla.), who Republicans are trying to unseat in 2024. “This is something deeply personal to millions of Floridians. It's literally their own personal health care. So I think it'll organically become more of an issue now that the person that's the presumptive nominee for them has declared war on Obamacare again.”

In Florida alone, nearly all 3.2 million people who bought private health insurance plans under Obamacare get some of their coverage paid for by the federal government. “We have to continue to remind them who's on their side, and who's going to continue to work on these issues,” Mucarsel-Powell said of voters. “A lot has been done, a lot of good things have been achieved.”

Obamacare is limited in Florida because GOP state leaders opposed a part of it that would open up the Medicaid program to cover low-income people regardless of disability, work or pregnancy status. An estimated 800,000 Floridians would otherwise qualify for Medicaid coverage at little or not cost to them.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis opposes Medicaid expansion, which he described as welfare for people who don’t work. Scott, who was his predecessor in the governor’s mansion, considered expansion but ultimately didn’t support it.

DeSantis’ campaign didn’t respond to questions over his current position on the Affordable Care Act. When he was in Congress, he voted to repeal it.

Scott also called for an Obamacare repeal when Trump was president and said he helped him write a replacement plan. Priscilla Ivasco, Scott’s campaign communications director, called the senator a “leading voice in calling out Obamacare for failing Americans,” given that health care is still expensive.

Ivasco added that Scott was “looking forward to working alongside [Trump] when he wins in 2024” to lower costs and give more people access to health care. Scott previously suggested Congress consider sunsetting and reapproving all federal programs every five years, including Obamacare.

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