Rick Scott Ad Claims He Supports Protecting Pre-Existing Conditions, but Past Actions Suggest Otherwise

With just two weeks left until the midterm elections, Republicans and Democrats in Florida both came out with new ads on Tuesday centered on Florida Governor Rick Scott's stance on whether health insurance companies should be forced to cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Scott, who's currently running a tight race to unseat Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, has long argued that he does not support efforts to rid the requirement for insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He's also advocated to repeal the law, which would no longer require pre-existing conditions to be covered.

With Scott as governor, Florida joined a federal lawsuit in spring seeking to strike down that provision of the health care law, and Democrats came out with their own ad to highlight the issue on the same day as Scott's.

In Scott's new 30-second ad, "It's Personal," the governor told the story of how his brother, Roger Scott, had a pre-existing condition when he was growing up. He said their mother would drive 200 miles to a charity hospital to get treatment, and that was why Scott supported the measure requiring pre-existing conditions be covered. Prior to the provision, insurance companies could deny those with pre-existing conditions or charge more for such conditions.

"I support forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions," Scott said in the ad. "For Senator Nelson, it's just another political issue. But for me, it's personal."

Florida was one of 20 Republican-led states to join a lawsuit, Texas v. Azar, aimed at striking down the Obamacare provision requiring pre-existing conditions be covered. Scott's attorney general, Pam Bondi, joined the lawsuit on behalf of the administration. A spokeswoman for Scott's office told PolitiFact in September that Bondi was independently elected and chose to join the lawsuit herself, not at the direction of Scott.

"Governor Scott's administration did not have input," she said.

Scott has long advocated for the full repeal of Obamacare, which would no longer require insurance companies to accept millions of people in Florida with pre-existing conditions. He has stated that he supports the pre-existing conditions coverage provision of the law, despite calling for the repeal.

The GOP's 2017 tax reform law, supported and often touted by the president, removed the individual mandate requiring people to purchase health insurance by no longer imposing a tax penalty on those who did not purchase insurance. Because of that, the lawsuit argued, the rest of the law was no longer constitutional.

"The ACA lacks a rational basis now that the individual mandate's tax penalty has been repealed," the lawsuit said. "Given that the ACA's 'essential' feature—the individual mandate—is unconstitutional, the law now imposes irrational requirements, in violation of the Due Process Clause."

One of those "irrational" requirements mentioned was to cover pre-existing conditions.

Scott and his campaign have said, and continue to say, that Scott does not support getting rid of the pre-existing conditions coverage.

"My position has not changed—I do not agree with efforts to remove pre-existing conditions," Scott said in a statement in June. "I've continued to say that it is important to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and that every American, including those with pre-existing conditions, should have the ability to buy any kind of insurance they want. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much, but keeping pre-existing provisions should be a part of any healthcare reform."

The Department of Justice and Trump administration later chose not to oppose the lawsuit, siding with the GOP-controlled states. The DOJ argued in a June 7 court filing that by requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions, and for them to be priced equally, without an individual mandate penalty, Obamacare would "allow individuals to game the system by waiting until they were sick to purchase health insurance."

The same day as Scott's ad, the nationwide group aiding Democratic candidates across the country, the Senate Majority Political Action Committee, released their own ad rebutting Scott's claims.

"You put your political party over doing what's right," the ad said. "Mr. Scott this may just be politics to you. But to me, it's my life."

In recent polls, Nelson has maintained a slight lead over Scott. Some polls showed Scott trailing within the margin of error. The two candidates' campaign for Senate is on track to be one of the most expensive Senate races in the country, when factoring in outside money and TV ad spending.

In the most recent Federal Elections Commission filings, Scott had raised roughly $54 million since the start of his campaign. In more recent filings detailing campaign contributions from October 5 to 17, Scott personally donated $7,450,000 of the $7,480,800 raised by his campaign.

Nelson's campaign has raised around $25 million.