In the News
Panama City News Herald
Jan 19 2017
Panama City Rep. Neal Dunn used one of his first votes as a freshman legislator in favor of the budget resolution, saying repealing and replacing Obamacare simultaneously still is on the table.
PANAMA CITY — Before Friday’s inauguration ceremony, Republicans have gone full steam ahead on the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
In a 1 a.m. vote Jan. 12, the Senate passed a budget resolution 51 to 48 that would allow both sides of the legislature to begin work on repealing the ACA in committee. The next day, the House passed the same resolution 227 to 198.
Rep. Neal Dunn, R-Panama City, used one of his first votes as a freshman legislator in favor of the budget resolution. Dunn campaigned on repealing and replacing Obamacare simultaneously, something he said still is on the table, stating he won’t be “party to pulling the rug out from under Americans.”
“We do have a plan to replace it,” he said. “We have a plan.”
Several Obamacare replacement bills have been introduced in committee during the past several years, including a plan most recently previewed by Sen. Rand Paul — one he says will require insurance companies to offer plans more tailored to a patient’s needs, as well as allow individuals and small businesses to potentially band together and increase their bargaining power. While many Americans have expressed concern about losing their coverage because of pre-existing conditions, Dunn promised pre-existing conditions would be covered under the new plan, as well as a provision allowing dependents to be covered under their parent or guardian’s health insurance until they turn 26 years old.
“People are always concerned when you talk about their health,” Dunn said. “It’s a very complex subject, and the possibility is scary.”
But he said repealing the ACA doesn’t mean winding the clock back to six years ago, as the previous system “wasn’t good either” with costs rising out of reach for many patients. He maintained the new plan, which he said will be passed by the end of this fiscal year, will come with a “smooth transition” and less bureaucracy.
“The government jumped into this thing with both feet,” he said. “Now we’re going to have to fix it.”
While the groundwork for repeal and replace has been laid, the public might not be as on board as previously thought. A recent CNN/ORC polls found, for the first time since its passage in 2010, 49 percent of Americans favored Obamacare, with 47 percent opposing it. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll also found the law is more popular now than it ever has been.
This year’s deadline to sign up for ACA health coverage is Jan. 31. As of Jan. 14, more than 8.8 million Americans had enrolled, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services in Washington, including more than 1.6 million Floridians.