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Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman August 14, 2017

Democrats mislead in attack linking Florida Senate candidate to Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare

Florida Democrats are trying to attach President Donald Trump to the Republican in a Miami state Senate race seen as a crucial battleground.

Millions of dollars are expected to be spent on the race between former Republican state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democrat Annette Taddeo for Senate District 40. The Sept. 26 special election was called to replace Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned after using sexist and racist language.

The Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the state Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, released a new TV ad featuring Taddeo. It links Diaz to Trump’s support for repealing Obamacare — using a photo of Diaz and Trump together at the inauguration as more proof of their lockstep bond.

"Jose Felix Diaz supports Trump's every move including his plan to slash Medicare, charge older Americans an age tax and cut coverage for pre-existing conditions," states the ad.

The ad is referencing Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare and is a nod to efforts in the U.S. House and Senate to repeal and replace the law.

Diaz was a consistent vote against the Affordable Care Act as a statehouse member, even though his actions could not influence the federal law. But the ad exaggerates the support Diaz lent to the U.S. House and Senate legislation this year. He has mostly been quiet on the issue.

Diaz fought against Obamacare years ago

The Democrats offered no proof of Diaz speaking in favor of the Obamacare repeal proposals that Congress debated and voted on in 2017.

Diaz has avoided the topic in his bid for state Senate. That isn’t too surprising since if he wins, he would have no ability to vote on a federal replacement.

We could not find any evidence in news archives or campaign literature showing Diaz weighing in on federal proposals in recent months to repeal or replace Obamacare.

That’s a problem for the Democrats’ accusation.

In the absence of any supportive Diaz comments, the Democrats detailed four anti-Obamacare votes Diaz took as a state representative in 2011 and 2012.

Those votes were largely symbolic, and they had no connection to the specific policy advocated in the GOP repeal-and-replace efforts in Congress in recent months. (The risk to Medicare patients, an "age tax" and charging Americans more for pre-existing conditions were specific consequences of parts of those bills, as determined by health care analysts.)

Resisting the Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, was a persistent theme for the Republican-led Legislature when Diaz served.

• In 2011, Diaz co-sponsored a bill to prohibit most individuals from being forced to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Although the bill passed, it could not supercede federal law.

In a debate on CBS4 Miami Aug. 13, Taddeo attacked Diaz for voting on a bill that "essentially dismantled Obamacare." Diaz responded: "The state cannot dismantle anything so I’m not even sure what that means."

• In 2011, Diaz also voted for the "Health Care Freedom Act" bill to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to ban individuals from being forced to buy insurance or companies from having to provide insurance. Florida voters rejected it in 2012.

• In 2012, Diaz voted in favor of a bill to urge Congress to repeal the federal health care law. It passed the Florida House but died in the Senate.

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• In 2012, Diaz voted for an amendment within an appropriations bill in support of providing funds to challenge the constitutionality of the federal law. (The amendment was essentially a political move -- Attorney General Bill McCollum already sued in 2010 to challenge the federal law and Pam Bondi later took over that effort.)

The Democrats offered one piece of evidence from 2017, but it also does not prove Diaz supported any of the repeal proposals.

Diaz was one of several Florida lawmakers invited to Washington in February for two days of closed-door meetings with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to discuss the Affordable Care Act, flood insurance, water issues and tax reform.

After the meetings concluded, Rubio said that "among the issues we discussed, repealing and replacing ObamaCare was a top priority." There is no public record to review whether Diaz mentioned repeal. (The Tampa Bay Times posted a video after the meeting in which Rubio, seated at a table with Diaz and other state lawmakers, spoke on a variety of issues, including his criticism of Obamacare. Diaz did not speak.)

In the CBS4 debate, Diaz said during his visit to Washington, D.C. "I did not advocate for anything that had to do with dismantling Obamacare."

When we asked Diaz about his position on the repeal and replace efforts, the statement we received didn’t clearly answer if he favored the proposals.

He replied that many voters in the district "believe that Obamacare is a failed product" and said if "Obamacare is indeed repealed, we need to ensure that everyone that is currently covered continues to be covered, including pre-existing conditions."

Campaign spokesman David Custin pointed to an effort by Diaz to expand health care coverage as a state House member in 2016. Diaz sponsored a bill that allowed eligible children of legal immigrants to apply for the state and federal Kidcare program. The language was folded into another bill that became law.

TV ad cites reports about 2017 repeal efforts

Before we issue our ruling, we wanted to briefly explain the other points in the ad about the Republican plans to repeal or replace Obamacare in the U.S. House and Senate. While the House narrowly passed a bill in May, the Senate failed to pass a new plan in July before it went on recess.

While the GOP health care plan didn’t include explicit changes to Medicare, the legislation could hurt the 11 million low-income Medicare beneficiaries who are dual enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid. These "dual eligibles" would be affected by congressional efforts to cut and cap Medicaid funding, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

The so-called "age tax" already exists, although GOP plans would have made it even steeper. Under current law, insurance companies can charge older adults up to three times as much as younger people based on their age. House and Senate bills increased the ratio up to five times. While that change would reduce premiums for younger people, it would increase premiums for older people in that age bracket.

The Affordable Care Act included a ban on denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. The House GOP plan had literal language which said that insurers have to provide access for those with pre-existing conditions, but it didn’t address costs. The legislation would have allowed insurers to set premiums based on the "health status" of individuals -- which would have meant higher costs for sicker patients with pre-existing conditions.

One more time: We don’t know Diaz’s position on these bills.

Our ruling

A Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee TV ad says Diaz supports Trump's "plan to slash Medicare, charge older Americans an age tax and cut coverage for pre-existing conditions."

The ad provides no evidence that Diaz, as a state representative and now a state Senate candidate, has taken stances on the efforts in 2017 by Trump and Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate to repeal or replace Obamacare.

Instead, the Democrats point to a series of anti-Obamacare votes Diaz took in the state House years ago that ask Congress to repeal the law and declare opposition to the individual mandate.

Those votes aren’t mentioned in the ad, and they obviously don’t address support for the 2017 proposals in Congress that analysts said would hurt some Medicare users and lead to higher costs for older adults and people with pre-existing conditions.

Votes by Diaz show that he opposed the federal law while in the statehouse, but that’s not what the Democrats’ ad says.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

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Mostly False
Says Jose Felix Diaz supports President Donald Trump's "plan to slash Medicare, charge older Americans an age tax and cut coverage for pre-existing conditions."
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Our Sources

Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, TV ad in Senate District 40, Aug. 10, 2017

The Commonwealth Fund, "AHCA Would Affect Medicare, Too," May 17, 2017

Jose Felix Diaz, Campaign website, Accessed Aug. 11, 2017

Florida House, HB 1193, House vote April 29, 2011

Florida House, CS/SJR 2, House vote May 4, 2011

Florida House, CS/HM 1281, House vote Feb. 29, 2012

Florida House, HB 5001, House vote Feb. 9, 2012

Florida House, Carlos Lopez-Cantera amendment to HB 5001 Feb. 8, 2012

Florida House, HB 89, House vote March 3, 2016

Florida House, HB 5101, House vote March 11, 2016

CBS4 Miami, Senate District 40 debate, Aug. 13, 2017

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio press release, Rubio Meets With Florida Legislative Leaders To Discuss Federal-State Issues. Feb. 28, 2017

Center for American Progress, "Senate Repeal Bill Would Still Eviscerate Coverage and Protections for People with Pre-Existing Conditions," June 9, 2017

Congressional Budget Office, Better Care Reconciliation Act, June 26, 2017

CNBC, "Here are the details of Senate Republican Obamacare replacement bill," June 22, 2017

Huffington Post, "The Overlooked Trumpcare Threat: A Medicare Time Bomb," June 30, 2017

Huffington Post, "Trumpcare Raids Medicare To Enrich The Wealthy And Plant A Bomb," March 15,  2017

Sun Sentinel, "Haridopolos gets his ‘health-care freedom’ amendment," (Accessed in Nexis) May 4, 2011

Sun Sentinel, "House joining federal health-care litigation?" (Accessed in Nexis) Feb. 8, 2012

Palm Beach Post, "Trumpcare: Jimmy Kimmel plea ‘cheap?’ Ask Boca woman at Rubio’s office," June 2, 2017

Politico, "Diaz chokes back tears during testimony on Kidcare bill," Feb. 4, 2016

Politico, "Why Taddeo v. Díaz is a make-or-break state Senate race for Democrats," July 25, 2017

News Service of Florida, "House Passes Bill To Expand KidCare To Legal Immigrants," March 4, 2016

Tampa Bay Times, "Florida Legislature wants voters to ban individual mandate, but federal law likely would prevail," (Accessed in Nexis) May 9, 2011

Tampa Bay Times, "House Republicans, minus Fasano, hold firm on 'CorcoranCare' Medicaid alternative," April 25, 2013

Tampa Bay Times, "Rubio wants social security, Medicare to be part of budget talks," Feb. 28, 2017

Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "Florida Democrats release first TV ad for Taddeo in Miami Senate race. It's all about Trump," Aug. 10, 2017

Miami Herald, "Miami-Dade lawmakers unite for winning session in Tallahassee," March 18, 2016

Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "Diaz: 'Aggressive trolling' prompted deletion of Twitter selfie with Trump," May 16, 2017

Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "Miami senate district forum will be skipped by at least one major Republican candidate," July 10, 2017

Miami Herald Naked Politics blog, "In Miami senate race, mailer says Donald Trump endorsed Jose Felix Diaz -- but read the fine print," July 12, 2017

Miami Herald, "How Artiles went from defiance to resignation: Four extraordinary days at the Florida Capitol," April 22, 2017

Miami Herald Naked Politics, "Corcoran, Negron to discuss Obamacare, flood insurance with Rubio in D.C.," Feb. 27, 2017

Tampa Bay Times The Buzz, "Rubio to meet for second day with state lawmakers," Feb. 28, 2017

PolitiFact’s Trump-O-Meter, Repeal Obamacare, July 31, 2017

PolitiFact, "The Senate health care bill: What’s in it and what to watch for in the CBO report," June 22, 2017

PolitiFact, "Conservative group's ad misleads about pre-existing conditions in GOP health care bill," May 24, 2017

PolitiFact, "GOP health care bill charges five times more for people over 50, liberal group says," May 11, 2017

PolitiFact, "Democratic state Rep. Joe Gibbons says Floridians don't favor health care repeal," May 5, 2011

PolitiFact, Annette Taddeo Truth-O-Meter, Accessed Aug. 10, 2017

Interview, Christian Ulvert, Annette Taddeo spokesman, Aug. 10, 2017

Interview, David Custin, Jose Felix Diaz campaign consultant, Aug. 11, 2017

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Democrats mislead in attack linking Florida Senate candidate to Trump’s plan to repeal Obamacare

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