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Ron DeSantis has long been an antagonist towards affordable health care. His record is clear: as Florida Governor, DeSantis has refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), preventing hundreds of thousands of Floridians from receiving free, comprehensive care and leaving the state with one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the country. When he served in Congress, DeSantis tried to repeal the ACA six times and even opposed Trump’s hallmark “replacement” because it didn’t go far enough to slash coverage for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions. He has tried to slash Medicaid, which seniors, communities of color, and people with disabilities count on, and even campaigned on a far-right plan to cut and privatize Medicare.

If Ron DeSantis got his way:

  • Health care coverage for nearly 30 million people would be repealed
  • Tens of thousands of older adults’ lives would be threatened
  • People with pre-existing conditions could again be denied coverage or charged higher prices
  • Health insurance premiums could be 20 percent higher
  • 65 million seniors who rely on Medicare would face significantly higher health care costs
  • ….and so much more.

THE DETAILS: Governor Ron DeSantis Has Held Back Care From Hundreds of Thousands of Florida Residents 

As Governor, Ron DeSantis Has Prevented Hundreds of Thousands of Florida Residents — Disproportionately People of Color — From Receiving Coverage By Refusing The Expand Medicaid. Florida Republicans, led by Ron DeSantis since 2019, have been blocking Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, preventing up to 726,000 Floridians from obtaining Medicaid coverage, remaining a “hard no” on expanding Medicaid even as millions of residents faced hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the hundreds of thousands of currently uninsured residents that would become eligible for the program if DeSantis expanded Medicaid under the ACA, around 57 percent are people of color, with Black residents disproportionately shut out of coverage, comprising 28 percent of those in the coverage gap despite forming just 17 percent of Florida overall.

  • Hundreds Of Thousands More Floridians Who Would Be Eligible For Expanded Medicaid Have Been Forced To Pay Higher Premiums and Copays On ACA Marketplace Plans. “Florida’s rate of uninsured people under 65 is 15.1%, according to the latest data from 2021, the third highest rate after Oklahoma and Texas. That is an improvement since 2010, the year Obamacare was signed, when the rate was 26%. The state has led the nation in signing people up for private subsidized insurance through the Obamacare exchange, largely through the efforts of private brokers and federal recruitment programs. But many of these cheaper Obamacare plans are less desirable than Medicaid for the low-income people who qualify because they often come with high deductibles. And the world around Florida has shifted. California, where 21% of people under 65 were uninsured before Obamacare, got that number down to 8.1% by 2021. […] [T]he federal government covers 90% of Medicaid expansion costs for American citizens and residents, meaning most states bear a much smaller burden. And President Biden signed a law in 2021 providing an extra incentive for states to sign onto expansion — covering an additional 5% of the costs for the first two years, one of several measures designed to bolster the nation’s insurance rolls. That new money has not swayed DeSantis…” [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/23]

Florida Has One Of The Highest Rates Of Uninsured Residents Thanks To Governor Ron DeSantis. Thanks to Ron DeSantis, Florida has one of the highest rates of uninsured residents in the U.S. with 15.1 percent under 65 uninsured—nearly 2.6 million people as of 2021. By allowing high rates of uninsurance to persist, DeSantis has neglected the health and well-being of his own constituents: “Floridians without insurance suffer because when they can’t pay for their medical care, they end up in debt or go without needed treatment or both. The state suffers, too, because it ends up with a sicker, less productive workforce as well as a higher charity care load for its hospitals, clinics, and other pieces of the medical safety net. DeSantis could do something about this. He has refused. In fact, as of this moment, his administration is embarking on a plan that some analysts worry could make the problem worse. […] Childless adults in the Sunshine State can’t get Medicaid unless they fall into a special eligibility category, like having a disability. And even adults with kids have a hard time getting onto the program because the standard income guidelines are so low ― about 30% of the poverty line, which last year worked out to less than $7,000 for a family of three. That’s not enough to cover rent, food, and other essentials, let alone buy a health insurance policy.”

Florida Families Experiencing Extreme Poverty Are Not Covered By Medicaid Thanks To Governor Ron DeSantis. Under DeSantis, Florida has become “one of the hardest places in the country for poor adults to obtain health insurance. By refusing to allow Florida to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, DeSantis has forced millions of Florida families to depend on a ‘patchwork of services that often drive up costs to taxpayers and leave patients with crippling debt, undertreated illnesses or both.’ […] Adults without young children in Florida don’t qualify for the program and even a family of four would have to earn less than $8,400 a year.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/22/23]

Ron DeSantis Signed A Bill Allowing Health Care Providers and Insurers To Discriminate Against LGBTQI+ Patients Into Law. “Acting at the behest of the administration of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine also adopted a politically motivated and discriminatory rule that denies age-appropriate gender-affirming care to Florida’s transgender youth. The rule (64B8-9.019) was filed with the Florida Department of State on February 24, 2023 and became effective on March 16, 2023.” [Human Rights Campaign, 5/11/23]

Ron DeSantis Opposes The ACA And Its Protections For As Many As 133 Million People With Pre-Existing Conditions

While Serving In Congress, Ron DeSantis Voted Six Times To Repeal The Affordable Care Act. As a member of Congress, Ron DeSantis voted six times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and strip millions of lifesaving, affordable health coverage. ACA protections safeguard care for as many as 1 in 2 non-elderly Americans, 50 to 13 million people. 

  • 2017: Ron DeSantis Voted For Trump’s ACA Repeal. DeSantis voted for passage of the American Health Care Act, which would have reduced health coverage nationwide. 23 million people would have lost coverage under this bill by 2026, and millions of people with pre-existing conditions would have lost protections for coverage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that the American Health Care Act would have raised premiums by 20 percent. The negative economic impact of the American Health Care Act would have caused about 1.8 million people to lose their jobs by 2022.
  • DeSantis Initially Opposed the AHCA Because It Didn’t Go Far Enough. According to the Los Angeles Times, DeSantis made his reputation in Congress clear as an “avid opponent of Obamacare” who initially “opposed a Republican plan to end the law because it did not go far enough, leaving, he said, ‘the core architecture of Obamacare in place.’” In fact, DeSantis was part of a conservative faction that resisted early proposals until Republicans expanded the ACHA to allow insurers in some states to “raise prices for people with pre-existing conditions whose coverage lapsed,” reportedly arguing that early proposals “didn’t undo enough of the law’s protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”
  • 2015: Ron DeSantis Voted For A Total Repeal Of The ACA. DeSantis voted for HR 596, an act “to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and health care-related provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.” The bill also ordered House committees to develop a replacement that would “provide people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health coverage,” but provided no specifics. 

Ron DeSantis Has Tried to Slash Medicaid and Privatize Medicare

During His Congressional Career, Ron DeSantis Voted To Slash Medicaid and Embraced Slashing and Privatizing Medicare. Ron DeSantis was well-known for supporting measures to slash and privatize key retirement programs including Medicare. 

  • 2017: Rep. Ron DeSantis Voted To Cut $880 Billion From Medicaid. While serving in Congress, DeSantis voted for AHCA, which included $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid. Vox called the AHCA a “sneaky” reversal of the ACA’s Medicaid expansion: “Medicaid, a government program that simply compensates health care providers at stingy rates, is much cheaper than private insurance. So the ACA’s authors chose to expand it to cover all families with incomes below 138 percent of the poverty line, rather than shelling out the money it would have cost to have the government pay for them to buy private insurance. The AHCA reverses this expansion. But to avoid the criticism that the law throws poor children off their health insurance, it reverses it in a somewhat sneaky way. Rather than taking Medicaid away from families who have it, it simply caps new enrollments in Medicaid so no new poor families can sign up. But the way this cap works, you can’t get back on Medicaid if you go off of it. So a poor family that gets a raise and becomes non-poor for a year will lose access to Medicaid permanently.”
  • 2014: Rep. Ron DeSantis Voted To Slash and Privatize Medicare. In April 2014, DeSantis voted for a budget amendment that would have raised the retirement age for Medicare to 70, cutting lifetime Medicare benefits and expenditures substantially, and “changed Medicare from a program that guarantees access to health insurance into one that would have provided a stipend payment that would not, over time, have necessarily kept pace with the actual cost to buy health insurance. 
  • 2013: Rep. Ron DeSantis Voted For A “Fringe Proposal” To Slash and Privatize Medicare. In March 2013, DeSantis voted for a budget amendment described as a once-fringe proposal that would have raised the retirement age for Medicare to 70, cutting lifetime Medicare benefits and expenditures substantially, and “changed Medicare from a program that guarantees access to health insurance into one that would have provided a stipend payment that would not, over time, have necessarily kept pace with the actual cost to buy health insurance. 
  • 2012: Ron DeSantis Campaigned For Congress On Privatizing Medicare. “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expressed support for privatizing Medicare and Social Security during his first campaign for Congress in 2012. […] A CNN KFile review of comments from DeSantis’ 2012 congressional campaign found he repeatedly said he supported plans to replace Medicare with a system in which the government paid for partial costs of private plans or a traditional Medicare plan. In one interview with a local newspaper, DeSantis said he supported ‘the same thing’ for Social Security, citing the need for ‘market forces’ to restructure the program. […] Under the proposals, the government would subsidize seniors by partially paying for private plans or a traditional Medicare plan. ‘I would embrace proposals like [Rep.] Paul Ryan offered, and other people have offered, that are going to provide some market forces in there, more consumer choice, and make it so that it’s not just basically a system that’s just going to be bankrupt when you have new people coming into it,’ DeSantis told the St. Augustine Record in a video that was posted on YouTube at the time.” [CNN, 2/9/23]