Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Scott stands by two misleading campaign ads on Obamacare

MIAMI — Gov. Rick Scott is standing by two misleading campaign ads that falsely suggest 300,000 people in the state already lost their health insurance plans due to Obamacare.

"Clearly, the ad's accurate," Scott told reporters Wednesday in Miami, declining to elaborate.

The insurance company at the center of Scott's claim, Florida Blue, said in an email that the Affordable Care Act has not resulted in 300,000 of its customers being forced out of their plans.

"To date, most of the members in our pre-ACA plans have kept their plans," Florida Blue spokesman Paul Kluding said in a recent public statement.

Kluding noted that some customers chose to leave their old plans because new Obamacare plans offered a better deal "either because of potential subsidies, or because they would benefit from the new coverages and/or better premiums."

"Technically, there were a couple of hundred members with unique plans that were not continued. We chose to migrate those plans to new ACA-compliant ones instead of making changes to their existing benefits," he said. "Other than those unique members, no one else lost coverage due to the ACA."

Based on the statements from Florida Blue, PolitiFact Florida, a joint fact-checking website by the Tampa Bay Times and Miami Herald, rated Scott's campaign ad Mostly False for saying "300,000 health plans canceled."

After PolitiFact's analysis, Scott's political committee released a new ad Monday that essentially repeats the misstatement with this line: "300,000 in Florida lost coverage."

Neither ad mentions Obama Administration figures that show more than 442,000 Floridians selected an Obamacare plan as of March 1. The administration plans to announce more figures for Florida soon.

Both ads attempt to use the unpopular Affordable Care Act as a vehicle to attack Scott's Democratic rival, Charlie Crist.

The issue of the potential cancellations arose last fall when Florida Blue — the state's largest individual health insurance company — said about 300,000 plans didn't comply with the robust coverage standards of the Affordable Care Act.

Those and other plans would have been canceled, but they were allowed to remain for all of 2014 due to a request from President Barack Obama. Those plans could be canceled in 2015.

"It is important to note that the '300,000' was a number that was being used when describing how many Florida Blue members could receive a notice that their policies would not be compliant with ACA requirements throughout all of 2014, if no extension was provided to these plans," Kluding's Florida Blue statement said.

"In actuality, only 40,000 letters were mailed to members with Jan. 1, 2014, effective dates. Subsequent notices were sent to these members notifying them that their existing plans would remain active and unchanged through 2014."

Still, the fact that these and other plans were going to be terminated under Obamacare earned the president PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" for 2013 because he had falsely and repeatedly said people could keep their health insurance plans if they like them.

Scott hadn't been questioned about his ads by reporters until Wednesday when he made a stop at the Armando Badia Senior Center in Miami-Dade, where he met with seniors who complained about rising costs associated with their Medicare Advantage plans.

Some of the staff also asked for more financial help at the center. Scott last year vetoed a $1 million item in the state budget that sought to pay for an expansion at the center, however it didn't affect senior meals or services.

Scott didn't mention his veto and focused exclusively on Medicare Advantage, a privately run alternative to traditional Medicare. Advantage plans were supposed to cost less than traditional Medicare but, on a per-recipient basis, they cost more.

Medicare Advantage faces federal cuts to help fund Obamacare. But Obama this week announced he was halting the cuts.

Scott, however, said the private companies that run the program are already cutting back as a result of Obamacare.

"As they cut these Medicare Advantage programs, what's going to happen is people are going to lose their doctors, they're going to pay more out of pocket for their (pharmaceuticals), their premiums are going to go up," Scott said.

Scott also falsely claimed the Congressional Budget Office said that "2.5 million people are going to lose their jobs" as a result of Obamacare. The head of the CBO has specifically denied that characterization.

The CBO report instead said that, because of Obamacare, more Americans in the future will choose to work less so that the cumulative hours of work they don't do would be the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs.

Unlike his ads, Scott has been more careful when he speaks publicly about the cancellation issue.

"We were already told last fall that 300,000 Floridians were going to lose their insurance," Scott said.

When Scott was questioned about why his ads say 300,000 people already lost their insurance when they really didn't, Scott demurred.

"If you look, around the state, Obamacare has had an impact on a lot of people's plans. They're losing their doctors. And they're losing their plans," Scott said, as an aide started to end the press availability.

"Have a great day," Scott said.

Gov. Rick Scott stands by two misleading campaign ads on Obamacare 04/09/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 9, 2014 6:13pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.