Political Hay

Storm Warning for Florida

Its name is Obamacare.

By 2.12.14

UPI
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If you have lived in Florida for any length of time, two things are certain—hurricane season and hard-fought elections. Right now there is a storm brewing and its name is Obamacare. No one, including candidates, is safe. Florida may prove a bellwether for voting across the country, and its large electoral vote total and congressional delegations might hold the key to a Republican resurgence. As George Will pointed out in his column this week on the Florida special election on March 11, if the Republican prevails, Republicans will construe this as evidence that Barack Obama has become an anvil in the saddle of every Democratic candidate.

The outer bands of the storm already have hit us, in the form of the chaos that greeted Healthcare.gov. The website issues limited the sign-ups thus far and turned off the young, healthy people whom the program needs to attract into the insurance pool—to pay for the old and the sick. The technology issues have shaken the confidence in the President’s competence and integrity. This, in turn, has caused a dramatic fall in Obama’s approval ratings (Real Clear Politics sees a 10 point drop since April 2013) sending real headwinds at the political fortunes of every supporter of Obamacare—which includes most Florida Democrats.

The storm got more intense, imposing a lot more than inconveniences like buggy websites. More than 300,000 Floridians were left without health insurance after their policies were abruptly canceled. In a state where elections are decided by the thinnest of margins, those people might swing the vote against Democrats.

The administration is trying to claim victory that the people who suffered cancellations have turned to the Obamacare “exchanges.” But what they found on those exchanges is hardly an even swap. For the average 30-year-old male in Florida, Obamacare policies will cost approximately 60% more than what they have been paying. In essence, they have been hit with the “Unaffordable” Care Act. What’s worse is that the “exchange” policies limit access to some of the best doctors, hospitals, and treatments. Nor is Obamacare bringing in the uninsured it promised to cover. Based upon the most recent surveys only 11% of enrollees nationwide were previously uninsured.

The overall impact of Hurricane Obamacare in Florida is Democratic politicos running for cover from the growingly unpopular Obama and his unpopular plan. In the 13th Congressional Seat once held by Congressman Bill Young, Democrat nominee Alex Sink once openly supported Obamacare but now is suspiciously silent. In a district, where President Obama narrowly beat Mitt Romney, a recent poll shows the lesser known Republican David Jolly up on Sink by 4 points, 47%-43%. Why? Obamacare. Two-thirds of those polled want Obamacare replaced or repealed and 68% said that their vote would be influenced by Obamacare.

The bigger prize is the Florida Governor race in November. As with all Florida statewide races, polls suggest a very close race between current Republican Governor Rick Scott and former Republican Governor turned Democrat Charlie Crist. Scott has fought Obamacare at every turn, as the state has been at the forefront of the legal fight challenging its constitutionality and its implementation. As for Crist, the newly converted Democrat, he is an unabashed supporter of Obamacare. The Crist smile and warm handshake is unlikely to overcome the scars left by Obamacare. Crist’s embrace of Obamacare may derail his campaign, as his embrace of Obama derailed his previous run for the U.S. Senate. Only a portion of the 300,000 people who lost their insurance need to change their votes to guarantee reelection for Rick Scott.

Given Florida’s role as a crucial swing state, Obamacare may prove to be as devastating to Democrats as it has been to the American health care consumers.

There is some justice in this world. 

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About the Author

Ed Pozzuoli is the President of Tripp Scott law firm in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. He served as the Co-Chair of Jeb Bush for Governor Campaign and Regional Chair for the Rudy Giuliani Presidential Campaign.