The American Health Care Act of 2017 has been one of the most controversial health bills of the last five years. It is primarily focused on the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and has since been rejected in Senate multiple times. The consequences for its implementation could be severely negative for millions of people across the country, which brought upon great criticism from Democratic and Republican legislators. One of the senators that voted against many of its amendments is Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida. This paper will provide information about this legislator, as well as a mock interview with him on this issue.
Nelson was born in Miami, Florida. He attended the University of Florida, Yale University, and graduated with a law degree from the University of Virginia. He served in the army during the Vietnam War and attained the rank of Captain. In 1986, he went through NASA training and was a member of a NASA mission as a Payload Specialist.
His political career began in 1972 when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. He was re-elected multiple times for different districts until 1991. He lost to Senator Lawton Chiles in 1990 when running for the gubernatorial position. Nelson attacked Chiles’ age during the election which backfired due to Florida’s large retiree population. In 1998 he won the election to the office of Treasurer of Florida but resigned in 2000 to run for Senate. He became a member of the Senate for the Democratic Party in 2000 and throughout his career opposed President George W. Bush’s political actions (“Bill Nelson,” 2017), but focused on less controversial issues to maintain a centrist image.
He served six terms in the U.S. Congress during which he worked on the flood insurance reform, advocated for gun control, supported foreign aid, and recently became an advocate for environmental issues of the state. He was one of the opponents of the new health bill and has been securing strategic partnerships with the members of the Republican Party in order to ensure that it will not pass. In 2010 he voted for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and saw the AHCA as a danger to the citizens of the United States who are dependent on the care that ACA provided (“Biography,” 2017). He currently serves on the Commerce, Science and Transportation, Armed Services, Finance committees, and Special Committee on Aging. His current policy is focused on health care and environmental issues.
In 2008, you voted for the ACA bill to pass and have supported it since. What is your opinion on the AHCA bill and its intention to repeal the reforms that ACA introduced?
I have prioritized the issue of health care throughout my career. Florida has one of the largest populations in the country that are reliant on programs such as Medicaid and Medicare to supply them with medicine and care. When President Obama introduced the ACA bill, I saw it as a direct benefit for Florida. Almost ten years later, I regret to see it under attack from people who are willing to risk millions of lives out of partisan beliefs.
Do you believe that the ACA bill provides sufficient care for the people of Florida?
Currently, it provides medical services to the majority of elderly populations of the state. It allows citizens to receive insurance that they could not get before. It also includes services that not only help treat their medical conditions but improve their quality of life as a whole. The state is in a state of recovery at the moment due to the Hurricane Irma, and care is needed more than ever, but I know that ACA will be able to provide it for people.
Do you see any alternative health care solutions that could be implemented?
This month Senator Sander’s single-payer health care bill is being discussed. It is a radical approach to the health care system, but perhaps the change it requires cannot be achieved during the current political climate (Leary, 2017). I have put all my efforts towards supporting ACA, and I do not see myself supporting an alternative solution at the moment.
Senator Bill Nelson’s political career portrays him as a careful person who avoids rash decisions or risky positions. This behavior has earned him a reputation as a moderate Democrat. The ACA bill brought a lot of support to the population of his state, but it was not reflected in the votes during the 2016 election. The majority of the state voted for Donald Trump, who promised to repeal ACA (Alexander, Rothwell, & Coles, 2016). This position put Nelson’s position in jeopardy and may lead to his loss in the next senatorial elections.
The current health bill is under constant attack by the presidential office, but the substitute bill’s controversial nature has shown to be detrimental to its implementation. Bill Nelson is just one of the hundreds of legislators who spoke out against it. Perhaps his reputation will allow him to create bipartisan partnerships that would secure ACA’s position.
Biography. (2017). Web.
Bill Nelson. (2017). Web.
Alexander, H., Rothwell, J., & Coles, M. (2016). Donald Trump wins Florida to take step closer to the White House. The Telegraph. Web.
Leary, A. (2017). Bill Nelson not on board with Bernie Sanders’ single-payer idea. Web.