GOP Tax Bill Could Make 873,000 Floridians Drop or Lose Health Insurance

Photo by Gage Skidmore / Flickr
Let's get one thing out of the way: It's objectively bad if people don't have health coverage. "Choosing" not to enroll in a health-care plan means someone looked at the cost of plans, thought about how healthy they are now or might be in the future, and agreed it's better to gamble that they won't fall ill with a catastrophic ailment in order to pay next month's rent. The only people who "choose" not to have health insurance are people who cannot comfortably afford rent, groceries, and medical care all at once.

With that in mind: The GOP tax bill passed today! And it repeals the "individual mandate" written into the Affordable Care Act, AKA the Obamacare provision that mandated that all people buy health insurance. Though Obamacare was far from a perfect program, the mandate repeal that's sneakily included in the draconian, monstrous "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" today is expected to destabilize all sorts of insurance markets and ultimately force millions of people off of their health plans.

According to a study the center-left Center for American Progress (CAP) released earlier this month, that means roughly 873,000 Floridians will either be forced off their insurance plans or elect not to buy coverage. The study received a bit of media traction when it was released earlier this month, but it's worth repeating the figures today, just to drive home the fact that this bill is horrific.

CAP also broke down the estimated coverage losses stemming from the bill by congressional district — constituents of Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Carlos Curbelo, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are set to lose 41,000, 39,900, and 40,800 health policies, respectively. All three lawmakers voted for the tax bill.

As for Miami Democrats, 35,200 members of Rep. Frederica Wilson's district could see coverage cuts, as well as 37,700 of Debbie Wasserman Schultz's constituents. But those two at least aren't on the hook for voting for this mess.

As we noted repeatedly during the Obamacare-repeal fight earlier this year, people die when they don't have access to health care. Coverage cuts mean fewer people are able to receive preventive care or regular checkups or early cancer screenings. Cuts mean subpar or nonexistent prenatal care. Data backs up these claims — as Medicaid coverage expands, fewer people die.

The bill is a grotesque pile of lies based on straight-up incorrect economic theories (e.g., that trickle-down economics works). The bill also blows up the federal deficit by $1 trillion for no useful reason, and lawmakers such as Sen. Marco Rubio have already admitted they plan to use that debt explosion as an excuse to cut social security, welfare, and Medicaid services, all so the Koch brothers' Large Adult Sons can inherit a few extra million dollars' worth of their grandparents' ill-gotten wealth.

In short: Never, ever forget who voted for this bill.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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