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Rubio voices support for health care replacement bill

Sen. Marco Rubio is ready to move forward on the GOP's Obamacare replacement plan and supports a provision that would allow insurers to sell bare-bones policies that do not meet standards of the Affordable Care Act.

"People should have the right to buy the kind of insurance they want at a price they can afford. Not everyone wants or needs the same kind of insurance," the Miami Republican said Thursday.

Rubio also said he is pushing a plan that would offer people catastrophic coverage only.

"Why can't you just insure against a serious illness or a bad accident but allow primary care or something else to either be covered by a separate but limited policy or through a health savings account or if you have enough money, out of pocket."

Rubio said he would vote in the coming week to put the bill on the Senate floor but stopped short of saying he would support it on final passage — if it gets to that point. Still, it's widely assumed he would vote in favor and has repeatedly reminded people he ran against Obamacare in 2010 and 2016.

"Whether you like this bill or not . . . unless you're on the bill you can't change it," Rubio said. "If there is anything about it you don't like, the only way to change it is through an amendment with a vote on the Senate floor. You can't even start that process unless you vote to proceed."

Rubio said it would be "almost impossible for me to support any sort of health care reform that does not treat Florida fairly when it comes to Medicaid."

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson slammed the revised bill. "This latest Republican health care bill is just as bad as the previous versions. It makes huge cuts to Medicaid, allows insurance companies to hike rates for older Americans and will take coverage away from millions of people."

Democrats outraise GOP in last quarter

Here's something we haven't seen in a long time: New state campaign finance reports show that in the three months ending June 30, the Florida Democratic Party raised $1.67 million, and the Republican Party of Florida raised $339,000.

This is what happens when the governor, Rick Scott, and the leading candidate for the GOP nomination for governor in 2018, Adam Putnam, and the GOP members of the Florida Senate are concentrating on filling their own political campaign accounts, instead of the party's.

It probably doesn't help either that Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran is also now concentrating his energy on his own political committee, rather than the state GOP led by Blaise Ingoglia, who spent considerably more than he raised in the latest quarter.

The Florida GOP has outraised the Democratic Party for the first six months of the year, $2.79 million to $2.52 million, but that's less than a third of what the GOP raised in that same period four years ago.

Putnam dominates in candidate fundraising

Agriculture Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam continued to dominate the field in June fundraising, raising $1.3 million in his Florida Grown political committee and nearly $800,000 in his campaign committee.

The $2.1 million nearly matched what House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes amassed in his Watchdog PAC, as he used the month for post-session fundraising to explore a run for the GOP nomination against Putnam.

The other possible Republican candidate, Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, raised $411,000 for the month while unannounced but likely Democratic candidate Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine collected $2 million for his All About Florida political committee in June, including $855,000 of it from out-of-state and $300,000 from himself.

The announced Democrats in the race saw their fundraising taper off a bit last month.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham raised about $350,000, including $226,000 in her political committee and $137,000 in her Our Florida PC. Orlando businessman Chris King raised $146,000 in his Rise and Lead political committee and $56,000 in his campaign account. And Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum raised $25,000 in his political committee Forward Florida and $98,000 in his campaign account.

The Democrats also benefitted from Democratic Party of Florida support of their campaign staff with in-kind contributions for the month totaling $98,000 for Gillum, $61,000 for Graham and $40,000 for King.

Rep. Deutch calls for vote on sanctions

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, makes the case that the House should pass up Russian sanctions legislation overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.

"That's a policy matter that will put the president to the test of whether or not he's willing, as he says, to be tough with Russia or whether he's really the President that we saw during the campaign as the candidate who kept talking about wanting to be friends with Russia," Deutch said on CNN. "This is a serious matter. Russia interfered with our election. Congress is trying to toughen sanctions. That's what the American people want and expect. That's what the speaker ought to allow us to vote on so the president has a chance to sign it."

Adam C. Smith and Mary Ellen Klas contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

Bill Nelson. For the second consecutive quarter, the Democratic U.S. senator raised more than $2 million for his 2018 re-election campaign. He now has $5.1 million in the bank, a sum that reflects aggressive travels on the fundraising circuit. Nelson will need it: He's most likely to face wealthy Gov. Rick Scott, who can pump millions into a campaign.

Loser of the week

Blaise Ingoglia. A dismal showing by the Republican Party of Florida's chairman in new fundraising reports. The party took in just $339,000 in the three months ending June 30, getting beat for the first time in forever by the Democrats. He may have excuses (see the write-up at left) but it's still a weak showing.

Rubio voices support for health care replacement bill 07/15/17 [Last modified: Saturday, July 15, 2017 8:03pm]
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