How do you get Florida seniors to tune in to the governor’s race in an off-year election? Make hair-raising attacks about Medicare.
Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces re-election in November and will likely face Democrat and former Gov. Charlie Crist. In an online ad titled, "Wrong for Florida Seniors," Scott makes some scary claims about Medicare cuts. The Florida Democratic Party fired back with an attack on Scott’s former tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA -- a hot topic in his first race in 2010.
Here’s part of the script of Scott’s ad:
"We already know that 300,000 people in our state were told they are going to lose their insurance, but now under Medicare we are seeing these dramatic rate cuts. It’s going to have a devastating impact on their ability to one, get the doctor, look they rely on their doctor, get to go to the hospital that they trust, make sure they get prevention services that they deserve. These Medicare cuts that the president has caused are the wrong thing for Florida seniors."
PolitiFact fact-checked Scott’s claim about whether dramatic rate cuts to Medicare will result in a "devastating impact" on seniors ability to keep their doctor, hospital and get prevention services. We rated that claim Mostly False.
Scott omits that the recently announced rate cuts were for Medicare Advantage plans, a subset of Medicare. Those plans represent about one-third of Medicare plans in Florida and nationwide.
The proposed rate cut won’t be finalized until April, and if it is, health care experts say we won’t know the full impact for a few months. That means it’s too soon to predict if the rate cut will have a "devastating impact" on seniors ability to keep their same doctor and hospital. It is possible that some seniors on Medicare Advantage will lose have to change doctors, but the impact could vary from county to county. Seniors on traditional Medicare are not affected by the cuts.
In response to Scott’s ad, the Florida Democratic Party issued a press release that accused Scott of overseeing "the largest Medicare fraud in the nation's history." We rated that claim Mostly True. In 1997, Scott resigned as CEO of Columbia/HCA amid a Medicare fraud investigation that ultimately led to a record $1.7 billion fine. In terms of health care fraud, that amount has been surpassed in recent years in cases involving marketing of drugs.
Read PolitiFact's full file on Medicare fact-checks here.