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Florida U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen breaks ranks with GOP leaders on health care bill

Florida congresswoman says Obamacare replacement would leave too many of her constituents uninsured

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

MIAMI (CFP) — U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has become the first House Republican to break ranks with her party’s leadership to oppose a new plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.

R0s-Lehtinen, who represents the 27th District in Miami-Dade County, announced her decision to oppose the bill March 14 on her Twitter feed:

“I plan to vote NO on the current ACHA bill. As written the plan leaves too many from my SoFla district uninsured. As AHCA stands, it will cut much needed help for SoFla’s poor (and) elderly populations. Need a plan that will do more to protect them.”

ACHA stands for the American Health Care Act, which is the formal name of the GOP bill.

In a subsequent statement, Ros-Lehtinen said that after studying the bill and hearing from her constituents, she concluded “too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there will be less funds to help the poor and elderly with their health care.” However, she made it clear that she would support changes in the existing Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

“I voted to repeal Obamacare many times because it was not the right fix for our broken healthcare system and did not live up to its promise to the American people, but this plan is not the replacement South Florida needs,” she said. “We should work together to write a bipartisan bill that works for our community and our nation without hurting the elderly and disadvantaged among us.”

Democrats have not participated in crafting the Republican health care replacement bill, being pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan. The plan has also run into opposition from his own caucus, both from more conservative members who feel it keeps too many features of Obamacare and more moderate members who fear its impact on Americans who have managed to gain coverage under the existing plan.

Ros-Lehtinen falls into the latter category. She is also one of only six Southern Republicans who represent a House district that Democrat Hillary Clinton carried in the presidential election last year.

Clinton carried the district by nearly 20 points, her largest margin of victory in any Southern GOP-held district. The majority-Latino district is anchored by Miami’s Cuban-American community.

Ros-Lehtinen became the first Cuban-American to serve in Congress when she was elected in 1989. She has broken with her party leadership in the past, most notably in her support for same-sex marriage.


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