Original post | 5:44 p.m.
Updated | 6:37 p.m.
President Barack Obama visits South Florida on Friday, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama. They plan to visit a Miami-Dade County school to discuss, as the White House explained “how a quality education has never been more important to economic success in this country.”
Republicans have other ideas.
Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, a Lighthouse Point Republican, said the president should meet with members of the South Florida Venezuelan community, which is concerned about the anti-government protests and government repression in their home country.
“I hope the president takes the opportunity while he’s vacationing in Florida to meet with the members of the Venezuelan community, and speak about the injustice that’s happening in that country,” said LeMieux, who is now board chairman at the Gunster law firm. “America has responsibility to lead, especially in this hemisphere.”
LeMieux’s vacation reference is based on reports that Obama will spend the weekend golfing at The Ocean Key Club in Key Largo. The Federal Aviation Administration has imposed airspace restrictions over Key Largo from Friday through Sunday.
In a press release from the Governor’s Office, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera also said Obama should talk about Venezuela:
"As President Obama prepares for his trip to Florida, we hope he will finally heed the recommendation of Governor [Rick] Scott and stand up for the men, women, boys and girls who are suffering every day at the hands of Maduro. As the child and grandchild of Cubans, my family has seen the same injustices that are happening now in Venezuela. The same agents who have caused heartbreak and despair in Cuba are now running Venezuela’s government. President Obama’s visit to Miami should shine a light on the crisis in Venezuela and put an end to the oppression of Maduro and his gang.”
In his own statement, Scott said Obama should discuss the Medicare Advantage program:
“President Obama’s administration recently announced cuts to the Medicare Advantage program as part his larger reductions to Medicare. He has decided to push forward with the cuts even though more families are using it, and has increased to nearly 16 million people. Medicare Advantage accounts for 30 percent of total Medicare enrollees, so these cuts are a big deal and impact families in Florida. For many Florida seniors, their primary care doctors and specialists have already been terminated from Medicare Advantage plans.
“In Florida, these cuts will be devastating. More than 1 million Floridians could face higher costs and less access as a result of these cuts. Patients are losing their doctors, their quality of care is decreasing, and their premiums are skyrocketing. The President should stop these cuts that are negatively impacting so many seniors who depend on Medicare Advantage.”
In a conference call for reporters organized by the Republican Party of Florida, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal also said Obama should talk about Medicare Advantage, which he said is “very, very serious to Florida’s seniors.”
Jindal said the successful Medicare Advantage program “is being threatened by these reckless cuts.”
The reductions in Medicare Advantage payments to insurance companies are required by the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Because Medicare Advantage costs more than standard Medicare it has provided extra benefits, which means enrollment in the plans, offered by private insurers, has gone up.
Jindal didn’t answer a question about why Medicare Advantage shouldn’t reduce costs since it costs more than traditional Medicare.
He also decried the Affordable Care Act for $700 million in cuts to Medicare even though House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., had proposed the same $700 million cut.Copyright © 2015, CT Now