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Republican Latinos Troubled by GOP's Obamacare Replacement

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says she'll vote against the GOP health plan as written.
Image: Paul Ryan, House Leaders Hold Press Conference On American Health Care Act
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan holds up a copy of the American Health Care Act during a news conference with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on March 7.Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images, file

Florida congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, says she'll vote against the Obamacare replacement legislation that her party has crafted, at least as it is now written.

Ros-Lehtinen's main reasons: "too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there will be less funds to help the poor and elderly with their healthcare."

Her explanation of her plan to vote "no" comes the day after the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the GOP health coverage plan and found that by 2026, some 24 million fewer people would be covered than are now, about 14 million would lose Medicaid coverage and subsidies would be eliminated for low-income people who buy non-group plans on the private Obamacare markets.

Related: Five Things To Know About GOP Health Plan's Score

The CBO also found the GOP plan would cut the deficit, but only by slashing Medicaid, which provides health coverage to the poor and low-income elderly.

"I voted to repeal Obamacare many times because it was not the right fix for our broken health care system and did not live up to its promise to the American people, but this plan is not the replacement South Florida needs," Ros-Lehtinen said. "We should work together to write a bipartisan bill that works for our community and our nation without hurting the elderly and disadvantaged among us.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Ros-Lehtinen's state is the home to many elderly Americans, with about 20 percent of its population 65 and older. The CBO found elderly Americans would see some of the highest increases in their premiums among those in the individual marketplace. Unlike other states, Florida did not expand Medicaid coverage leaving many people in the state, including many Latinos, without coverage that is available in other states.

Ros-Lehtinen was one of several influential Republican lawmakers who were expressing concern this week about the effects of the GOP-backed health care plan.

Related: GOP Skeptics Harden Opposition to Health Plan After CBO Report

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the CBO report "troubling" because it didn't "do enough to drive down premiums." Cruz campaigned on repealing the Affordable Care Act and is up for re-election in 2018.

Meanwhile, Democrat Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto joined others in her party in blasting the Republican effort and expressed concern about what effect the GOP bill would have in her state if it becomes law. In a roundtable with Latino reporters, she said that in Nevada, the effort to replace Obamacare is the No. 1 issue.

"In Nevada, we are one of the states where we have a Republican governor (Brian Sandoval) who created a health care exchange, expanded Medicaid ... our hospitals are seeing people who have insurance, including in rural hospitals ... We have created new health care programs as a result of the Affordable Care Act," Cortez Masto said. The Affordable Care Act is the official name for Obamacare.

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) speaks during a news conference February 16, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Republican bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act, is going to roll back everything," Cortez Masto said.

"In Nevada, is it going to be devastating," she said.

She noted that Nevada has many senior residents too and many plead with her to do something about the cost of prescription drugs. In addition, she said many of the state's hospitals will be effected, likely having to lay people off and close their doors.

"That's why I support Gov. Sandoval and his goal to focus on let's keep what works and fix what doesn't and I don't understand why the administration wants to continue down this path," she said.

She said she is in conversations with Sandoval about how the GOP plan would affect Nevada and other potential solutions.

"Why aren't we talking and listening to the governors in the states on what is going to work and what they want to keep for the people within their borders?" she said.

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