The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has seen broad adoption in Miami, Florida, especially amongst the Latino community. The region has shown a shift in political leanings from Democrat to Republican, with Donald Trump, who has pledged to repeal the ACA, being the current forerunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Despite this, President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is leveraging Trump’s stance on “Obamacare” in a bid to sway voters in the upcoming elections.
Latinos in Miami are renewing their health coverage plans for Obamacare
As salsa music fills a bustling Miami shopping center, many Latino residents are hoping to renew their Obamacare health coverages before the end of the year. This region is where the health care overhaul by former Democratic President Barack Obama is most popular, as per federal statistics.
However, the region’s political leanings have recently shifted towards Republicans, with Donald Trump, the anticipated Republican presidential nominee for 2024, pledging to repeal and replace the 2010 law. This potential change could significantly affect the South Florida Latino population and reverse the recent GOP gains, suggest experts.
President Biden’s campaign leverages Trump’s Obamacare stance
President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is capitalizing on Trump’s statements about Obamacare, using them as part of its broader strategies ahead of the expected rematch with Trump next year.
“Health insurance is extremely needed for everyone,” says Odalys Arevalo, a managing partner of a health insurance agency catering to Spanish-speaking clients in Miami. She believes that Republican supporters benefiting from Obamacare would not appreciate the sudden withdrawal of this health insurance provision.
Arevalo and her business partner, Mercy Cabrera, started enrollment centers to assist people in understanding the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces. They have since helped enroll tens of thousands, earning them the nickname of “Obamacare godmothers.” Despite being initially resistant to the name “Obamacare,” many Latinos started considering the option when they learned that insurers could no longer deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, Arevalo notes.
Obamacare’s widespread adoption in Miami
Obamacare’s impact is evident in Miami, with federal data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services indicating its extensive usage. About 3.4 million Hispanics have signed up for insurance through the health law, with Florida leading the pack. Miami-Dade County holds the highest number of enrollments, with approximately 750,000, constituting more than a quarter of the total population.
Despite its popularity, Florida remains one of the ten states resisting Medicaid expansion under a provision of the health law. The regions with the highest sign-ups last year and this year are Doral and Hialeah, known as hubs for the Venezuelan and Cuban communities and frequent locations for Trump’s visits and rallies.
Public Opinion on Obamacare
According to a KFF poll conducted in May 2023, 59% of Americans and 66% of Hispanics have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act. Also, a survey of U.S. voters, APVoteCast, revealed that 62% of 2022 midterm voters in Florida believe that the federal government should ensure that all people in the country have health care coverage.
Zulina Ruiz, a 72-year-old retired lawyer from Venezuela, expressed her gratitude as a new U.S. citizen for the Affordable Care Act’s provisions, specifically for the access to drugs to treat her high blood pressure. She believes that health policy will be a top priority in her voting decision next year. “This is very important for me. I don’t think a candidate can just make this program disappear,” she said.
The Biden campaign has contrasting ads in battleground states, highlighting his efforts to reduce drug costs and Trump’s promise to repeal the health overhaul. The ad campaign has not included markets in Florida. Arevalo, one of the “Obamacare godmothers,” thinks Miami voters may not necessarily agree with all the positions of their preferred candidates but feels that Obamacare has grown on people in Miami once they understood its benefits.