Gov. Rick Scott's promise to fight to repeal the federal health care law was dealt another blow June 25 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to uphold subsidies for consumers who purchase insurance in the federal exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act.
That means that millions of Americans, including 1.3 million in Florida, can keep their subsidies to help them afford insurance. Since Gov. Rick Scott and the state Legislature did not want to establish its own insurance exchange under the law, the state is one of 34 that relies on the federally-run marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
Scott, a former health care company executive, began his fight against the Affordable Care Act before he was a candidate in Florida.
In 2009, Scott spent $5 million of his own money to form Conservatives for Patients' Rights, a group that fought Obama's original health care proposal.
In 2010, Scott said he would join efforts to repeal the health care law, including supporting a constitutional amendment that "prohibits the federal government from imposing President Obama's individual mandate, to protect Floridians' freedom to control their health care choices."
At PolitiFact Florida we have been tracking dozens of Scott's promises, including his one to fight the Affordable Care Act, since he won his first campaign in 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. And we have fact-checked many claims by Scott related to the Affordable Care Act.
We gave Scott a Promise Kept when he succeeded in getting the Legislature in 2011 to agree to place a question on the ballot that would have attempted to invalidate the health care law's insurance mandate. But voters rejected the amendment in 2012. And Scott had other setbacks that year: The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the law and Obama was re-elected. After the 2012 election, we moved this promise to Compromise as Scott retooled his efforts but his chances dimmed.
While Scott has consistently opposed the federal health care law overall, he has been inconsistent on a key component: whether to expand Medicaid.
After rejecting the idea during most of his first term, in 2013 he announced that he had gained a new perspective after his mother, who raised five children while single, died. He recalled how she struggled to afford treatment for his brother's hip disease.
"No mother, or father, should despair over whether or not they can afford – or access – the health care their child needs," Scott said. At the time Scott announced that "we will support an expansion of our Medicaid program under the new health care law."
But in 2015 amid a fight with the federal government over health care funding, Scott said the state shouldn't expand Medicaid and that it would be "hard to understand how the state could take on even more federal programs." We gave Scott a Full Flop.
In April, the Legislature ended the session early without agreeing on a budget amid a fight over Medicaid expansion and the loss of federal matching funding for the Low Income Pool, or LIP. Washington had warned the state in 2014 that it would not renew LIP but Scott sued the federal government, saying the federal government was forcing the state into expanding Medicaid by tying the LIP to an expansion decision.
In a special session in June, the Legislature reached an agreement after a compromise with the federal government to provide a reduced amount of LIP money while overhauling the program. The federal contribution, combined with state money, helps pay for uninsured and underinsured patient care, but the state will not expand Medicaid. Scott signed the budget June 23.
Scott then dropped his lawsuit.
"Florida saw a tremendous win for low income families this week when the Obama administration finally agreed to continue funding part of Florida's Low Income Pool program even though our state did not expand Obamacare," he said in a press release. "Because of this great victory, we have decided to dismiss our lawsuit against the Obama administration for attempting to coerce Florida into expanding Obamacare."
Alan Levine, who served on Gov. Rick Scott's transition team in 2010, said that all Scott can do is continue to refuse to expand Medicaid and refuse to create a state exchange. (Levine said that he personally supported Medicaid expansion.)
"I don't think that we are done," Levine said. "In January 2017 there will be a new president, and if it happens to be one that wants to repeal Obamacare, Rick Scott will still be governor and still be in a position to advocate for repeal."
With not much for Scott to do at the moment, this promise rates Stalled.