A new Florida Democratic Party ad for Andrew Gillum‘s gubernatorial bid hammers Republican Ron DeSantis on health care, noting he opposed Obamacare and the expansion of Medicaid in Florida.
The ad’s narrator also says: “And when he was asked what cancer patients should do without health insurance, DeSantis said: ‘Show up at the emergency room.’ How can DeSantis lead Florida when he leaves Floridians behind?”
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The “show up at the emergency room” quote was extracted from a March 2017 interview of DeSantis by CNN’s Erin Burnett after CNN aired a segment about a Republican Wisconsin woman, Tiffany Koehler, who relied on Medicaid to receive cancer treatments.
Are Democrats fairly characterizing what DeSantis said?
“Ron DeSantis fully supports covering pre-existing conditions,” said DeSantis campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson. He added: “Andrew Gillum’s attacks are a desperate attempt to distract from his disastrous single-payer healthcare proposal which would cost $33 trillion dollars and take away every Floridian’s current insurance coverage.”
To see DeSantis’ “emergency room” comment in its full context, here’s the relevant portion of CNN’s transcript of the DeSantis interview.
BURNETT: What do you say to Tiffany? I mean, she’s a Republican, but, you know, she wouldn’t be alive, she wouldn’t be here without that Medicaid expansion and Obamacare.
DESANTIS: Well, if you remember when Obamacare was enacted, there were millions of people who had their healthcare canceled. And so there are stories of people who had certain needs, cancer or whatnot who got pushed into policies that they didn’t want, and then they didn’t have the same coverage that they had because of the broken promise. So I think this law has really created a lot of different aspects.
I would say though, and people who supported Obamacare used to make this point a lot before it passed, there really is no lack of healthcare. If people really need it, if they show up at the emergency room, they do get care, it just gets passed on —
BURNETT: But not — I mean, she had $1 million in cancer treatments. You’re not going to get that by showing up in an emergency room.
DESANTIS: Well, I would say this. The bottom line with Obamacare is, a lot of the folks who were qualifying on the policies on the exchanges, more people are leaving, insurers are leaving. So that’s just not a sustainable system. You’re not going to have that going on two, three, four years into the future if nothing is done. And so that’s just the reality that we’re dealing with here with this system.
BURNETT: So when — I spoke to an expert from Standard & Poor’s yesterday, and his view was the GOP would mean 6 to 10 million people on Medicaid would lose coverage under the GOP plan because of what it would do the Medicaid expansion. When you say you wanted to go further, which I know you have said in your statement. What do you mean? You want to get rid of it altogether? What is your view of what should happen?
DESANTIS: Well, so, for example, we said we were going to repeal Obamacare. We did do a bill in January that President Obama vetoed. This bill though, for some reason, even after it were to be signed into law, actually allows more able-bodied people to sign up for Medicare for several years into the future. I think Medicaid should be focused on folks who are truly needy, poor kids, people with disabilities, seniors. I don’t think it’s a really good option for able-bodied people who are able to work and get insurance elsewhere. And what happens is, fewer and fewer physicians will even accept Medicaid, so it’s harder to get access to actual care because —
BURNETT: But what about someone again — like someone Tiffany, right? She loses her job, he’s able-bodied, but if it weren’t for Medicaid, you know, she wouldn’t have had the coverage when it turned out she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
DESANTIS: Well, I mean, I was not aware this was going to be on, so I don’t know enough about her situation, I apologize. I heard part of her story. But I would say, at the end of the day, we want to make sure that Medicaid is given block grant to the states so that the government can experiment with ways to actually get people the care that they need. And I think that we’re finding out that just having a Medicaid card is not necessarily leading to good care for a lot of those folks, both who were originally on the program and then now, obviously, with some of the able-bodied folks who have gotten on. Experiment with ways to actually get people the care that they need. And I think that we’re finding out that just having a Medicaid card is not necessarily leading to good care for a lot of those folks, both who were originally on the program and now, obviously, with some of the able-bodied folks who have gotten on.