Rick Scott defends "Obamacare" stance on radio shows

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Continuing a national media blitz Tuesday against last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, Gov. Rick Scott fielded some penetrating questions from radio hosts about statements he’s made since the high court ruled, reports Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida.

Those included queries based on a PolitiFact review – the fact-checking website by the Tampa Bay Times – which awarded Scott a “pants on fire” and two “falses” for remarks he’s made since the ruling.

The “pants on fire” award was prompted by Scott’s answer to Fox’s Greta van Susteren on Friday. The governor said he’d spoken with a small business owner who had 20 employees and feared going out of business at the end of 2013, because the mandatory insurance provision of the health care law would go into effect and cost too much for his business to survive.

PolitiFact noted that the ACA exempts businesses with fewer than 50 employees from the requirement to insure employees, and America’s Radio New Network host Lori Lundin asked Scott about the discrepancy Tuesday.

“You made the comments regarding small business just going under because of this health care law,” said Lundin. “According to the fact-checker, it says that businesses with under 50 employees won’t be required to offer coverage under the Affordable Care Act.”

“That’s not the issue,” Scott said. “The issue is small employers; their health care costs are going to go up. There was a study that came out of the [National Federation of Independent Business], and what it said was nationwide, we’re going to lose, I think it was, 125,000-plus jobs because the cost of health care is going to go up, and so these employers will not be able to afford it.”

The National Federation of Independent Businesses has staunchly opposed the ACA, and was a plaintiff in the lawsuit challenging its constitutionality.

PolitiFact also challenged the governor’s estimate of the eventual cost of the program. Scott said it would cost Florida $1.9 billion a year.

The PolitiFact website estimated the cost at $500 million, using data from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration – but also noted that figure won’t apply until 2020.

Additionally, Scott said on Fox News Monday that the ACA will mean health care in the U.S. will be comparable to the health care systems in Great Britain and Canada. “But you don’t get it, because it’s rationed,” he said.

PolitiFact gave that a “false,” too, saying the new law leaves the current system in place but expands Medicaid and allows others to buy into state health insurance exchanges.

That question also came up when Scott appeared on Tuesday’s “Morning in America” show with Bill Bennett on Salem Radio. Bennett asked the governor whether any of the state-run health-care systems in Europe have gone under.

“Have the people revolted anywhere and taken it back?” Bennett wondered.

Scott replied that while he isn’t familiar with all the European countries, “they’re trying to bring in more of the private sector” in the United Kingdom.

“And as you know, with [the ACA] they’re going to have this group that’s going to review what’s the right way to practice medicine, which is code for, ‘You know, we’re going to look to see what we can afford and then decide, Well, gosh, we can’t afford that so we won’t cover that.’ That’s exactly what they do in the U.K.,” Scott said.

Lundin’s co-host on America’s Radio News Network, Chris Salcedo, also asked Scott about one of the governor’s earlier statements.

“You along with several other Republican governors have signaled that you simply are not going to comply with the ‘Obamacare’ mandate – some of the edicts included in that law” Salcedo said.

“Oh, no, we’re doing exactly what we said,” Scott replied. “We’re going to comply with the law. But the Supreme Court allowed us not to implement a couple of things. First, we always had the opportunity not to do the health care exchange if we felt it was not in the best interests of our state. Second, the Supreme Court said we can opt out of (the expansion of the) Medicaid program.”

Scott reiterated a frequent response: that the federal government would pay for Medicaid expansion at first, but ultimately would pass nearly half the cost to the states.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.