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Repealing Obamacare Could Hurt Suncoast Families

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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB)--Efforts to replace Obamacare with a GOP health care bill are on hold with four republican senators saying they will not support it. Now a new effort is underway to repeal Obamacare and replace it within two years.

Last year alone, more than 1.7 million Floridians signed up for coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act. Repealing it could affect them along with many others who have signed up for it since 2009.

Things turned upside down for Cathy Bryant when her daughter Danielle was just five-years-old and developed a rare seizure disorder.

"It only takes one minute for everything in your world to change," Bryant said.

Bryant says her daughter's diagnosis left her ineligible for health insurance. The family was paying thousands of dollars in medical bills and had to declare bankruptcy.

"We went from a very stable, easy, simple life--to I can't work because I need to stay home with a kid that's extremely ill within two day," Bryant said. 

Today, Danielle is 21-years-old and still living with her illness--suffering anywhere from three to 500 seizures each day. The difference is now she's covered under her father's insurance until age 26 and has medicaid as a secondary coverage.

But as health care takes center stage in Washington, D.C.--Bryant worries what repealing and replacing Obamacare could mean for her daughter.

"She wasn't insurable even at five, so there's no way she would be insurable now," Bryant said.

It's a promise President Trump made time and time again on the campaign trail. And for months, Congress has discussed several alternatives to Obamacare.

Late Monday night, two more republican senators announced their opposition to the bill, all but ensuring its failure.

Now President Trump has turned his attention to just repealing it without a viable replacement--tweeting "Republicans should just repeal failing Obamacare now and work on a new health care plan that will start from scratch. Dems will join in!"

It's a change Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) is leading.

"This doesn't have to be the end of the story. Passing the repeal legislation will allows us to accomplish what we need to do on behalf of our people," McConnell said.

He's pushing for a 2015 measure that would repeal Obamacare but delay it taking effect for two years.

McConnell says it would buy legislators enough time to agree upon an alternative, but it could also leave millions of Americans uninsured.

Republican state representative and orthopedic surgeon Julio Gonzalez (R-South Sarasota County) has long been an opponent of Obama's signature health care bill. In fact, it was the reason he became involved in politics. His major objection is what he calls a violation of the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship.

"It was a way of trying to get government and/or regulators, i.e. bureaucrats to make the decisions about what is an appropriate intervention for an appropriate condition," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez says Congress should follow through with the promise of repealing the act--with or without an alternative plan.

"If I was in Congress tomorrow and you gave me the opportunity to repeal it and bring us back to 2007, I would go there in a heartbeat," Gonzalez said.

He says there are plenty of viable options.

"There are so many solutions that you can come up with after you reverse us to 2007," Gonzalez said.

As legislators come to the table to continue this discussion, Bryant asks them to consider people like her daughter and those with unforeseen medical emergencies.

"It only takes one medical crisis for your entire life to change and you can't plan for that," Bryant said.