Affordable Care Act battle making presence known in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla.  (WFLA) – The battle over repealing the Affordable Care Act is making its presence known in Tampa.

On Thursday morning, demonstrators took to the streets to send a message to lawmakers fighting back against the president’s promise to repeal it.

If it’s repealed, more than two million Floridians could lose their insurance.

Many people are afraid that President Trump and top GOP lawmakers will repeal and then replace the Affordable Care Act, and that has them very uncertain about what healthcare could look like in the months and years to come.

“Oh, I’m absolutely terrified,” said Karen Clay, a mother who relies on Medicaid to pay for her 36-year-old son’s in-home care.  “When Mike was diagnosed, his doctors told me he’d never see his first birthday.”

Clay fears that with the Affordable Care Act repealed, she believes Medicaid would be rolled back.

Demonstrators on Waters Street in Tampa rallied against what they call the “GOP’s dangerous health care agenda.”

Dr. Mona Mangat, a doctor in private practice in St. Petersburg, calls repealing the Affordable Care Act a difference between life and death.

“It’s saved peoples’ lives,” Dr. Mangat said.  “It’s given millions of Americans the chance to have health care coverage.  It’s made coverage accessible to patients.”

Congressman Charlie Crist, who represents the 13th Congressional District, said lawmakers have a big job ahead of them.

“Is it a perfect act?” Crist asked.  “Of course not. We need to get the cost down. That’s the biggest problem I see with the act.  Repealing it would be wrong.  Fixing it would be right.”

While Republican strategist Jonathan Torres believes the protests are premature, especially since Republicans haven’t revealed details of what they’re going to propose.

“I believe that whatever it is replaced with will allow those to keep their current health plan, or a version thereof, so they can continue to have that accessibility,” Torres told News Channel 8.

For Karen Clay, she’ll do whatever she has to in order to be a voice for her son.

“That’s why I’m fighting,” she said.  “We can’t allow that to happen.  We’re better than that.”

Clay says if her sons loses Medicaid, he won’t be able to live at home anymore and if that happens, he’d most likely be moved permanently to Tampa General.

She said that she’d move with him wherever he goes.

The House and Senate are both working on their versions of a bill right now.

The President has previously said that the replacement plan was nearly finished, but now it appears there’s no immediate deadline.

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