Bilirakis tries to quell concerns over ACA repeal at town hall

- A heated crowd confronted Republican Congressman Gus Bilirakis of Pasco County during a health care town hall Wednesday night.

He invited constituents to weigh in on the GOP promise to repeal Obamacare, and then replace it.

During previous congresses, he has voted several times to repeal Obamacare. Bonni Axler of Land 'O Lakes said her husband, Bill, would be dead without it, and she begged Bilirakis not to vote to repeal again.

"If you take the ACA away, and its preexisting away, I am going to lose my husband," Axler said.

Her husband is battling a heart condition and two kinds of cancers. She does admit her insurance is expensive, but "Every month, when I call in that credit card to keep his insurance, I thank God he's alive."

To the crowd of over 100, Bilirakis pledged any GOP bill wouldn't eliminate coverage for those with preexisting conditions, throw those under 26 off parents' plans, or repeal the ban on lifetime caps for new plans.

We asked Bilirakis if he could promise only to support plans that would allow his constituents to keep their insurance.

Bilirakis said, "Well, that's what the goal is, that's the goal."

But he argued the mandate should be repealed in favor of health savings plans. Kim Irvine of Land 'O Lakes agrees.

"I know of several friends who need health insurance and they can't afford it," she said. "It is not the affordable Care Act. Period."

The crowd was contentious, with opponents and supporters jawing back and forth. Bilirakis, like other Republican members of congress, campaigned several times on repealing Obamacare.

His district voted for Trump over Clinton by 14 points.

Yet many have been confronted by constituents, in South Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona, who say Obamacare has helped them.

The tangled politics of Obamacare were illustrated by Bilirakis' answer to a concerned constituent Wednesday night.

"If it is good enough for us, why isn't it good enough for you?" the person asked Bilirakis.

He responded, "I am on Obamacare myself. The staff is also on Obamacare."

He said house leaders would float a bill next week, which President Trump has promised would jibe with his promise to repeal Obamacare.

Leadership has not said how many their plan would cover. While some in GOP have not had town halls, this is Bilirakis' third.

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