LARGO, Florida — David Jolly, who faces a special election next week, has campaigned heavily on his vow to repeal Obamacare if he makes it to Congress. But some of his supporters are not sure they want him to.
Obamacare enrollment is surging in the state of Florida. By the end of January, enrollment in the new health care exchanges hit approximately 300,000, jumping nearly 88 percent in a single month. Though numbers for February haven’t been released yet, they will certainly push the total number of newly-insured significantly higher. Nationwide, more than four million Americans have enrolled in the insurance exchanges, and millions more are getting insured via federal funding to expand Medicaid.
The huge number of Americans signing up for Obamacare is a major hurdle for Republicans’ repeal efforts. Not only is the law proving popular in terms of enrollment, but undoing Obamacare now could mean actively taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who are enjoying it now.
But Jolly, the Republican nominee to replace the late-Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young (R-FL) in Florida’s 13th congressional district special election next Tuesday who supports full repeal, is unperturbed.
When ThinkProgress asked Jolly during a meet-and-greet at a senior citizens home whether the 300,000 Floridians who just gained health coverage under Obamacare factored into his support for repeal, the Florida Republican argued it was worth the cost. “We are better off without Obamacare,” Jolly responded. We asked whether those 300,000 Floridians in particular would be better off, but Jolly dodged, remarking instead that “less-government solutions” could address gaps in our health care system.
KEYES: A few of the folks that I spoke with wanted to see Obamacare repealed as you called for, but are worried that something on the order of 300,000 Floridians have gotten insurance through it. Is that something that’s going to factor into your vote if you get to Washington? The fact that there are somewhere around 300,000 Floridians who have already gotten insurance through Obamacare.
JOLLY: We are better off without Obamacare. You may have heard the woman in there, who lost three doctors, I believe she said. We’ve seen premiums go up. […]
KEYES: Do you think folks who have gotten insurance through the exchanges, is it fair to say they would be better off?
JOLLY: I think we can address affordable care, we can address pre-existing conditions through truly less-government solutions, not through Obamacare.
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Many of the seniors ThinkProgress spoke with, even those who had already cast a ballot for Jolly, were wary of his plan to repeal Obamacare, especially if it meant taking away insurance from hundreds of thousands of Floridians.
Two voters who had already cast ballots for Jolly were surprised to find out that he supports repealing Obamacare. Terry O’Reilly, who said her age was “probably 87,” shook her head and said, “I don’t like that. I would prefer if there was safety for people less fortunate than I am. Obamacare is a heck of a lot better than nothing.” Her friend, Carmen Sagnella, agreed. “I would have a good discussion with him about that,” she told ThinkProgress.
Another Jolly supporter, Gwen Cohenauer, said she was also concerned about people who would lose their coverage if Obamacare were repealed.
Some Republicans though, like Joseph Goodsir, 84, urged Jolly to continue his fight to repeal Obamacare. ThinkProgress asked Goodsir if Jolly should stick to his guns, even if that meant more than 300,000 Floridians could lose their health coverage. “Yeah,” he said.