DeSantis says he’ll replace Obamacare with a ‘better plan,’ but offers no details

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

By Giselle Balido

December 8, 2023

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would take health insurance away from 3.2 million Floridians, with no concrete plan to replace that coverage.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has promised that if elected president, he will “replace and supersede” the Affordable Care Act (ACA)–most familiarly known as Obamacare–with “a better plan.” 

“You will have a totally different health care plan,” the Republican presidential candidate said earlier this week on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” 

“What I think [we’re] going to need to do is have a plan that will supersede Obamacare,” he added, echoing former President Donald Trump’s renewed call to replace the ACA. 

Just don’t ask for the details. When pressed for specifics, DeSantis spoke in general terms of “lower prices” and “transparency” as he promised to roll out his “bigger and better” plan proposal sometime in the spring.

DeSantis’ position has surprised many Republicans, who have generally steered away from the hot-button health care debate after then-President Trump’s failure to repeal the law in 2017.

Nationally, some Republican advisers have expressed concern about calling for the termination of a law that provides health care coverage to millions of Americans, considering it a political loser going into 2024. The ACA continues to enjoy high approval marks among the public, according to a recent KFF Health Tracking Poll.

The ACA “Monster”

DeSantis’ desire to replace Obamacare could be particularly risky, considering he’s the governor of the state with the highest number of people in the country signed up for health insurance under the ACA, a distinction that has been true since 2015. 

In fact, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Florida leads the nation with more than 3.2 million people enrolling, or 20% of the country’s totals. 

RELATED: Democrat Kathy Castor Urges DeSantis to Protect Medicaid Health Insurance for Children and Families

Ironically, the Miami area–where some older, Republican-leaning Hispanics loudly decry the idea of government mandated health care as “socialism”–is driving those numbers. 

In 2022, one of the two cities with the most enrollees in ACA coverage nationwide was Hialeah, a city north of Miami known for its right-leaning Cuban American community. The other is Doral, a city west of Miami with a large, right-leaning Venezuelan population. Miami-Dade remains the county with the most ACA enrollees in the country, according to CMS.

“Florida is like an ACA monster,” a senior policy adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a charity focused on health, told The New York Times. 

RELATED: Over 2.5 Million Floridians Lack Health Insurance and DeSantis Still Won’t Expand Medicaid

At the same time that DeSantis proposes to replace the ACA, Florida is one of just 10 states that has not expanded its Medicaid eligibility to cover more low-income residents under the ACA. DeSantis’ refusal to expand Medicaid has left roughly 1 million Floridians without health insurance, leading the state to have one of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured residents. At this time, more than 2.5 million Floridians (12% of the population) lack health insurance, a rate well above the national average. 

When asked about the Sunshine state’s healthcare crisis and high rate of uninsured residents during the second GOP presidential debate, the governor ignored Medicaid expansion, celebrating that Florida doesn’t have “a lot of welfare benefits.” 

DeSantis’ stance on the matter has drawn criticism from Democrats, including President Joe Biden.

“Over 1.1 million people in Florida would be eligible for Medicaid if Governor DeSantis just said I agree to expand it,” Biden said during a visit to the University of Tampa in February of this year.

“The only reason that Medicare expansion hasn’t happened here is because of politics.” 

Author

  • Giselle Balido

    Giselle is Floricua's political correspondent. She writes about the economy, environmental and social justice, and all things Latino. A published author, Giselle was born in Havana and grew up in New Jersey and Miami. She is passionate about equality, books, and cats.

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