Orlando protesters rally against Obamacare repeal at Marco Rubio's downtown office

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PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Under the blazing sun, protesters in Orlando rallied in front of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's downtown office, chanting "Shame! Shame! Shame!" against Republican senators like Rubio who voted Tuesday to open debate on the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

The latest health care overhaul bill from the GOP would leave 22 million Americans uninsured by 2026 and give a $563 billion tax cut to corporations and wealthy people, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Rubio and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson voted on party lines Tuesday to open up 20 hours of debate on the health care bill, after which an unlimited number of amendments can be filed.

"Rubio does not want to look those people in the eyes and tell them they cannot afford the medicine that saves their lives," Melanie Gold, an organizer of Orlando's protest, told the crowd. "He doesn't have the guts to stand there and say to somebody, 'You are going to die because that medicine that you cannot get for your heart transplant, which cost you $100,000, will no longer be covered.'"
PHOTO BY MONIVETTE CORDEIRO
  • Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Gloriann Gaston, a social worker at a local emergency room, told protesters that proposals to give states block grants for Medicaid would actually hurt Florida. While proponents say it would give states more flexibility to handle their Medicaid programs, critics say the proposal would by Medicaid spending by a third over the next 10 years, according to Kaiser Health News.

"I feel like the burden is going to fall again on hospitals and hospitals are not equipped to do that," Gaston says. "Hospitals are also very expensive because it's critical care, it's not out-patient care, People are using hospitals as a solution...but you can't follow up at a hospital. You need to have outpatient providers, and you can't access that without insurance in this country or without adequate community programs."

Meanwhile, Rubio, who has been skipping town hall meetings all year because activists will "heckle and scream" at him, has taken to making his arguments against Obamacare where it's safe – at his desk, in front of a camera. Florida's junior senator has figured out the best way to avoid his constituents is by addressing them without really having to listen to their reactions on Facebook Live. Cue the angry face emojis.

After the Senate's vote on Tuesday, Rubio took to Facebook Live this morning to address an article in the Palm Beach Post, which states that Florida tops other states with about 1.5 million people enrolling into Obamacare and an added 4 million adults and children in the state are on Medicaid. Rubio argued against reports that Floridians will be kicked off of Medicaid under the Republican's replacement plan.

"There's nothing in this law that's going to change that," says Rubio, water bottle within arm's reach. "Florida didn't expand. A lot of states expanded their Medicaid coverage to include people that don't qualify under the traditional Medicaid. Florida never did that, and so, there's no one going to be kicked off. … I don't care how much some people in the press ignore it. If Medicaid is mandatory coverage if you qualify, mandatory coverage of all sorts of conditions that have to covered and we're not changing either one of them, then by law, you cannot kick people off."

But Politifact has rated Rubio's claims "mostly false" because the Senate bill would curb "the rate of spending by the federal government over the next decade and caps dollar amounts and ultimately reduces the inflation factor. Those changes will put pressure on states to make difficult choices including the possibility of cutting services."

Ouch. Maybe Rubio should attend one of these town halls and get some more information.

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