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FL: As nation awaits court ruling on health care, Sunshine State in spotlight

By   /   June 21, 2012  /   News  /   4 Comments

By Yaël Ossowski and Marianela Toledo | Florida Watchdog

TAMPA— As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares its decision on the national health-care law, it is no mistake that President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney are sweeping across the Sunshine State in a campaigning frenzy.

Romney is speaking Thursday in Orlando at the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, the same group Obamawill address Friday.

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll underscores the significance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the presidential race. Obama was leading 46 percent over Romney’s 42 percent in the poll of 1,697 registered voters in Florida conducted June 12-18, with a margin of error of 2.5 percentage points.

This poll showed a swift change from the earlier Purple Strategies poll, a new public opinion group, which gave Romney a 4-point lead.

But Florida also is in the spotlight because it served as the launching pad for the national movement against Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law in March 2010.

The lawsuit that brought the Affordable Care Act before the U.S. Supreme Court to decide its constitutionality bears Florida’s name — Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Obama administration has no concept of what insurance is or should be,” said Robert Sanchez, director of public policy at the James Madison Institute, a nonprofit free-market think tank in Tallahassee.

“Insurance is supposed to be about pooling risk. Allowing people to opt in or out is going to warp the entire idea of that.

“The Medicaid obligation that states will have to pick up if the law is upheld is going to squeeze out a lot of money used for other purposes. By tying the hands of the states with these future obligations, the federal government is giving Florida, among others, an offer they can’t refuse — literally.”

Frank Torres, a political analyst for Central Florida News 13 in Orlando, said an unconstitutional ruling might generate the momentum Republicans need to tally national wins in the fall.

“Here we have a chain of events that have built up the GOP: Scott Walker‘s win in Wisconsin, … the Eric Holder contempt vote on Fast and Furious (and) the Supreme Court potentially striking down the president’s health-care reform,” said Torres.

If the Affordable Care Act is upheld, Torres said he doesn’t believe it would mean ultimate victory for the president.

“Now if the health law is upheld, that’ll be a large amount of vindication for the president, but he’s not going to campaign too much on the unpopular parts of it,” said Torres.

“He’ll talk about keeping children on health plans and no denials for pre-existing conditions—but he definitely won’t be touting the individual mandate.”

As for politics statewide, Torres sees an unconstitutional ruling as a certain boon for the state GOP.

“This will give Republicans a trophy in Florida, especially for Attorney General Pam Bondi. She’ll have fufullied her campaign promise and that’ll keep her star rising in political circles,” Torres said.

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Yaël formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.