Florida Governor Says He Didn't Admit to a Medicaid Expansion ‘Ruse’

A report about the Florida governor, his mother, and Medicaid goes viral, much to the governor's chagrin.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 06: Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) speaks to members of the media after a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell May 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. Governor Scott met with Secretary Burwell to discuss his funding request for a Low Income Pool program which will be expire June 30.

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s on-again, off-again relationship with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion made waves Friday when an Associated Press report that he had “conceded” that his 2013 support for the expansion was a “ruse” went viral

In 2013 “the Republican governor said [his mother’s] death had changed his perspective and he could no longer ‘in good conscience’ oppose expanding health care coverage to nearly 1 million Floridians,” the AP reported, referring to his February speech, following the death of his mother, in support of the expansion.

“Scott conceded this week that was all a ruse,” the story continued. According to the AP, Scott said the move was meant to gain permission from the Obama administration to privatize Medicaid through a waiver, which the state formally received in June 2013. The story didn't quote Scott, or specify when he made the comment other than “this week.”

Scott’s communications director, Jackie Schutz, pushed back on the AP report in a statement, saying the governor’s office believes the AP story was based on an exchange between Scott and a reporter on Thursday:

“The AP incorrectly characterized the Governor’s comments yesterday. The Governor was asked by an AP reporter whether or not his support for Medicaid expansion in 2013 was a ‘lie.’ Governor Scott answered the question by discussing that he came out in support of Medicaid expansion, only if it was fully federally funded, at the same time the federal government granted Florida a waiver to let the state reform its Medicaid system. Unfortunately, the AP editorialized the Governor’s statement.”

Schutz also sent audio of the exchange. After being asked if he was “lying” about his reasons for supporting the Medicaid expansion in 2013 (he has since walked back his support) Scott said that he was never “willing to put our tax payers on the hook for something where the federally government won’t allow us to run a program the way we’d like to run it.”

Paul Colford, the director of AP Media Relations, declined to say whether the exchange referenced by Scott’s team was the basis for the article, or respond to Scott’s statement.  “We are standing by our reporting,” he said.

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