South Floridians react to new GOP health care bill

MIAMI (WSVN) - Health care providers and public officials across the country greeted the newly launched Republican health care bill with mixed reactions, and those in South Florida were no exception.

In Miami, staffers at Sunshine Life and Health Advisors, also known as “Las Madrinas de los Seguros” (“The Insurance Godmothers”), examined what the newly rolled out plan would mean for their clients. The local provider focuses on low-cost insurance for low-income patients.

“They’re extremely concerned, very worried,” said Sunshine Life and Health managing member Odalys Arevalo.

The American Health Care Act would replace Obamacare subsidies with tax credits doled out based on age, not income.

Arevalo said this particular change would mean her clients would have to pay considerably more than what they currently are. “It would not be anywhere near what they’re used to getting right now,” she said.

The new legislation would also eliminate mandates requiring health care coverage. “People are not going to feel responsible for their health insurance anymore,” said Arevalo. “People are not going to understand that this is something that they must do.”

The new health care plan will not enforce tax penalties for uninsured residents. Proponents say it restores health care choices and affordability.

In a tweet, President Donald Trump called the plan a “wonderful new Healthcare bill [that] is now out for review and negotiation.”

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., said she’s concerned about how the changes in the new legislation will affect her constituents. “I want to see how it impacts South Floridians,” she said.

The congresswoman said she still has lots of questions about the new plan. “What we know is that what we have does not work as well as we want it to work,” she said, “so we want a better plan. Is this the better plan? We need to analyze it.”

A closer look at the American Health Care Act reveals some parts of Obamacare would stay. “There’s actually more agreement than people realize,” said Steve Ullman, a professor at the University of Miami School of Business.

Ullman, who works at the School of Business’ Department of Health Sector Management and Policy, said the new plan keeps protections for those with pre-existing conditions, and young adults can remain on their parents’ health care plans until the age of 26.

“The question is — and this is where the debate lies — how do you fix the parts that aren’t working?” said Ullman.

The matter will be up for discussion, as lawmakers move forward.

For now, the local godmothers of Obamacare have a message for those relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage. “This is not going to happen tomorrow,” said Arevalo. “They’re going to be able to keep their plans as they are right now, and as they know them right now, for 2017.”

The American Health Care Act would also phase act Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion by 2020 and cap federal funds for each state.

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