Voters have a clear choice in the Florida governor’s race this fall between a candidate who wants to build on the Affordable Care Act and a candidate who wants to tear it down.

The ACA extended health-care coverage to millions across the country but, due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision, allowed states to decline federal funding to cover even more of the uninsured through Medicaid. That left coverage gaps in states such as Florida, which still has about 800,000 uninsured residents who would otherwise be covered.

Rather than trying to expand and improve coverage, GOP officials on the state and federal level are doing the opposite. A federal judge heard arguments last week in a case joined by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi that seeks to wipe put the ACA’s protections for patients with preexisting conditions and other parts of the law.

At the same time, the Trump administration is undermining the law through changes such as making it easier for junk insurance plans to be sold. Such moves would leave more people without adequate coverage when serious medical conditions arise.

November’s election will have major consequences for the future of the ACA and the protections it provides. Voters should consider the health-care positions of Florida’s gubernatorial candidates as well as those running for Florida attorney general, the state Legislature and Congress.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Jacksonville, pushed to repeal the ACA and pass an inferior substitute while in Congress. Now running for Florida governor with the backing of President Donald Trump, DeSantis has opposed expanding Medicaid in Florida but has otherwise offered few details on his health-care plan for the state.

His Democratic opponent for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, has pledged to work to expand Medicaid in Florida. He has proposed passing a state law protecting people from being denied coverage or charged more for it due to a preexisting condition, or women being charged more than men. He also backs the “Medicare For All” plan proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, who endorsed Gillum in the primary.

The Affordable Care Act was an imperfect piece of legislation that should be improved upon, not dismantled. Expanding coverage improves the health and economic prospects of those who are uninsured, as well as prevents the costs of their care in hospital emergency rooms from being passed on to people who have insurance.

Voters should consider the clear contrast between DeSantis and Gillum on health-care issues when deciding who to support in November. They should back Gillum if they want to build on the gains of the ACA, and DeSantis if they want to reverse the expanded coverage and protections that the law provides.

 

A version of this editorial originally appeared in the Gainesville Sun, a sister publication of the Daily News with Gatehouse Media.