PolitiFact Florida Dissects Claims on Medicaid; 'Stand Your Ground' Judge

Jul 14, 2017

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has been criticized in some quarters for not holding a Town Hall on the Republican attempt to repeal and possibly replace Obamacare. So he recently held an audience-free Facebook Live post, saying reports that Floridians will be kicked off of Medicaid under the pending Senate health care bill are missing the mark.

"As long as Florida keeps the same amount of funding or gets an increase, which is what we are working on, per patient being rewarded for having done the right thing -- there is no reason for anybody to be losing any of their current benefits under Medicaid. None," he said in a Facebook Live on June 28. "In fact, I asked the governor that point-blank, I asked the legislative leaders that point-blank. They have no plans, even if this bill passes, to kick anybody out of current services."

Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling on that claim:


Medicaid is the health care program for the poor funded by the federal government and the states. Under the Affordable Care Act, about 31 states agreed to financial incentives to expand eligibility for Medicaid. Florida rejected expansion.

Currently about 4.4 million Floridians are on Medicaid or CHIP, a program for children.

The Senate bill also provides additional money that might come to Florida. For states that didn't expand Medicaid, nationwide there would be up to $2 billion a year, and potentially other new funds aimed at hospitals with a high percentage of poor patients.

But the Senate bill takes several steps to restrain future Medicaid spending. While the impact is greater on states that expanded Medicaid by making federal payments less generous, non-expansion states will also take a hit.

The Urban Institute estimated the decline in federal dollars and enrollment for the states.

It found for Florida, that federal funding for Medicaid under ACA would be $16.8 billion in 2022. Under the Senate legislation, it would fall to about $14.6 billion, or a cut of about 13 percent. The Urban Institute projects 353,000 fewer people on Medicaid or CHIP in Florida.

The gap in funding is largely driven by enrollment numbers. Under the ACA, the federal government takes steps to actively recruit people to sign up for Medicaid, even in states that didn’t expand the program.

The Republican Senate bill doesn’t have that same goal to spread the word about Medicaid eligibility. In fact, it aims to curtail sign ups. Here are a few ways it sets out to do that:

  • Mandatory six-month eligibility checks that could reduce enrollment

  • Takes away the right of hospitals to make presumptive-eligibility determinations

  • Limits the effective date for retroactive coverage of Medicaid benefits to the month in which the applicant applied (currently it is a three-month window)

Rubio said that Scott and legislative leaders told him they won’t cut services, but those decisions will lie with a future governor and legislators years from now.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

In another ruling, a Miami judge ruled in early July that Florida’s "stand your ground" law is unconstitutional.

Naturally, that didn't stand too well with lawmakers, who crafted an updated version of the self-defense law. One of those, House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O'Lakes, tweeted this of Judge Milton Hirsch:

"It is the role of the Legislature to write the laws that govern how Floridians may exercise their statutory and constitutional rights. The Florida House will continue to stand with ordinary citizens who exercise their right to self-defense. There's a reason this judge is constantly overturned. We look forward to this decision being reversed on appeal."

Here's PolitiFact Florida's ruling:


Hirsch has handled thousands of cases since he was elected in 2010.

PolitiFact searched for Hirsch’s individual rulings in the Third District Court of Appeal and found that he was upheld about 160 times. We found that the appeals court overturned Hirsch six times. In six other cases he was upheld in part and reversed in part. (In a couple of other cases, the appeals court was critical of actions by Hirsch. The court disagreed with his ruling as a substitute judge in one case, and in another case the court said he should have granted a prosecutor’s motion to recuse himself.)

We interviewed five law professors and all of them rejected the idea that Hirsch is "constantly overturned."

Stetson law professor Charles Rose described Corcoran’s statement as "scurrilous."

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch, pictured here at a hearing in March, on July 3 declared the state’s new self-defense law unconstititutional. Roberto Koltun
Credit Photo courtesy of Roberto Koltun, Miami Herald/PolitiFact Florida

"I don’t think there is any credible evidence that the judge is prone to being overturned," he said. "A comment on how often a judge is overturned is an example of what we teach as ‘pivoting.’ When you are losing an argument you are making, you want to pivot and change the conversation."

The fact that a judge has been appealed doesn’t mean the judge is right or wrong, Rose said. There is a valuable purpose in the appeals process.

"If judges weren’t willing to be overturned, the law couldn’t grow and change to reflect society," he said.

We rate this claim False.