By Anthony Man
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz touted the benefits of the Affordable Care Act on Thursday as Republicans who control the House plan another vote to repeal what's widely known as Obamacare.
The Weston Democrat appeared in Fort Lauderdale at Gilda's Club South Florida, a support community for people with cancer and their families, to talk about the benefits to the public from President Barack Obama's signature domestic initiative.
"Obamacare will provide greater access to affordable care to millions who don't have it now," she said.
She highlighted the part of the law that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care services with no more than 20 percent for administrative costs and advertising.
Insurers who don't meet the 80 percent threshold have to send rebate checks, which have been going out in recent weeks.
Appearing with the congresswoman were Leslie Sheffield, of Fort Lauderdale, and Carolyn Hardy, of West Park, customers of an insurance company that spent only 73 percent of premiums on health care -- and recipients of rebate checks. Wasserman Schultz said rebates are going to 614,000 Floridians.
Both said they're sold on the benefits of Obamacare.
"We are thrilled to see that Obamacare is working for us and others like us," Sheffield said. She said she and her husband would use their rebates of $270 each toward their medical deductibles. If they are healthy enough that they don't need to spend the money on medical expenses, they'll buy a new dishwasher, she said.
Hardy said she was "quite shocked" to get the rebate check. She'll use her rebate to pay household bills or on her grandchildren.
Wasserman Schultz, who is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said Friday's scheduled vote to repeal Obamacare before Congress begins its August recess is a pointless use of time and money.
"What's amazing to me is that we are still struggling with the Republicans in
Washington and across the country who are still trying to repeal Obamacare. Tomorrow we'll take the 40th vote of some type to repeal all or part of Obamacare, knowing that the Senate is never going to take it up and knowing that the president would veto it if it got to his desk," she said.
Republicans see it differently.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., issued three press releases Thursday criticizing Obamacare. Rubio, a possible 2016 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, is among several senators affiliated with the tea party movement that are attempting to kill Obamacare by eliminating spending for it.
"I hope this law never goes into effect," Rubio said in one of the statements. "I don't think it can be fixed. I hope that its most damaging impacts will not be felt by our people. In particular, the hard working middle class who will pay the highest price of all. But if, God forbid, it does, every single one of us will have to go home and answer to people who ask, "Why did you let this happen?' And I for one, and I know my colleagues as well, are not prepared to go home and tell people, "Well, we tried, but we couldn't.' We have to go home and say, "We did everything we could. We took every step available to us.' And that's why this is such an important issue. That's why defunding this in September in the short-term budget is so critical. Because it truly is our last best chance to stop this law from moving forward."