MIAMI (AP) Salsa music blares from the dining room of a blighted Miami mall as Latinos head to a kiosk and an office displaying Obamacare signs, where they hope to renew their health care plans before the end of the year.
Its areas near this mall, where former Democratic President Barack Obama’s health care reform is more popular than anywhere else in the country, according to federal data. The district has also shifted away from Democrats to Republicans in recent years, with Donald Trump hosting several rallies here as part of his outreach to Latino voters.
Trump, the current contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, has vowed to continue his efforts to repeal and replace the 2010 law, which would be felt strongly in the region and could potentially reverse some of the GOP swing among Latinos in South Florida. experts say.
President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign has already seized on Trump’s remarks on Obamacare, which were implemented while Biden was vice president, as part of its broader efforts to shape a widely expected rematch with Trump next year.
Health insurance is extremely necessary for everyone, said Odalys Arevalo, one of the managing partners of a health insurance company serving Spanish-speaking clients in Miami. And I know that everyone who supports the Republican Party having health insurance through Obamacare doesn’t support the fact that it’s being taken away day after day. That’s a fact.
Arevalo and his business partner, Mercy Cabrera, set up enrollment centers to help people navigate the Affordable Care Act’s insurance market, recalling how some Cubans walked away saying no, no, no after seeing the name Obamacare, which Republicans opposed as reforming expensive government-run health insurance.
Insurers could no longer deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, and that prompted many Latinos to consider it, Arevalo says. In the following years, women began signing up by the tens of thousands, earning the nickname Madrinas del Obamacare, or the Godmothers of Obamacare, a reminder of the crucial role godparents play in Latino culture.
They have since rebranded themselves as Las Madrinas de los Seguros, or Insurance Godmothers, because they offer other plans. But they still use the word Obamacare on the walls of their offices and in their advertisements.
Obamacare is everywhere in Miami on billboards, businesses and bus signs. Federal data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services shows how widely it’s used here.
About 3.4 million Hispanics have insurance through the Health Act. Florida leads enrollment, with more than 3.2 million consumers choosing a plan during last year’s enrollment period from November 2022 to January. Miami-Dade is the county with the highest enrollment, with about 750,000 consumers, or more than a quarter of the total population.
Florida is also one of 10 states that have opposed expanding Medicaid coverage under provisions of the health law.
The two zip codes with the highest enrollment last year and this year are in Doral and Hialeah, centers of Venezuelan and Cuban communities just north of Miami that are common stops for Trump visits and rallies.
Last month, Trump posted on his social media site Truth Social that the costs of Obamacare are out of control, and besides, it’s not good health care. Although he said he is looking into options, he has not shared any plans. But Trump said he would not give up on ending it, recalling when the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blocked the then-president’s efforts to repeal the law in July 2017.
During the Trump administration, Republicans managed to pass a provision that reduced the penalty for not having health insurance to zero, the most unpopular part of the law and something that people in South Florida say made them feel better about the plans.
In a recent editorial, the Miami Herald also called out Trump’s plans to appeal to voters of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, another 2024 GOP presidential candidate.
The Bidens’ campaign was quick to respond, with Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried specifically citing an area where Obamacare is popular.
Miami-Dade County would suffer the most from Trump’s anti-healthcare agenda, Fried said.
According to a KFF survey conducted in May 2023, 59 percent of Americans say they have a positive attitude towards the Affordable Care Act. The same nonprofit’s poll focused on health policy found that 66 percent of Hispanics say they have a favorable view of the law.
According to APVoteCast, a large-scale survey of US voters, 62% of 2022 midterm voters in Florida said it’s the federal government’s job to make sure everyone in the country has health care. About a third of Florida voters in the 2022 midterm elections said it shouldn’t be the government’s job. Among Florida’s Latino or Hispanic midterm voters, 77% said it should be the federal government’s responsibility to ensure health care coverage for all, while one in five said it should not.
Zulina Ruiz, a 72-year-old retired lawyer from Venezuela, said she learned about Affordable Care Act options quickly after arriving in the United States in 2017. She said she is especially grateful to have access to medication for her high blood pressure. . Green card holders, refugees and other immigrants who have been granted temporary protection status or who have recently entered humanitarian parole are also entitled to insurance coverage under the law.
This is very important to me. I don’t think a candidate can just make this program go away,” he said. They would leave millions of low-income people without insurance.
Ruiz became a US citizen in May, but is not registered with any party. He doesn’t know who to vote for next year.
I haven’t decided yet and we don’t have official candidates yet, Ruiz said, adding that he still feels politically more connected to Venezuela. Much of the growing support for Republicans in Miami stems from Trump’s record opposition to socialist leaders across Latin America, including White House sanctions on Venezuelan officials.
But health policy is the top priority for me, Ruiz said.
The Biden campaign has run ads in battleground states where his push to lower drug costs is at odds with Trump’s new promises to roll back health care reform. The ad campaign did not include the Florida market.
Arevalo, one of Obamacare’s godmothers, believes Miami voters may not accept all the positions of the candidates they end up supporting.
But as for the local verdict on Obamacare, and despite initial hesitation, the program grew in Miami as they realized it, he said.
When Trump was elected, some people came out and said they wanted nothing to do with Obamacare. We said Obamacare, Trumpcare, whatever, he said of what they were telling people. What is important is that everyone has access to health insurance and that they can take care of their health.
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