Carlos Curbelo ‘opposes the repeal of Obamacare,’ says attack ad

PolitiFact found the ad left out key information about Republican Carlos Curbelo’s stance on the Affordable Care Act.

08/02/2014 12:37 PM

08/02/2014 9:22 PM

Republicans have a shot at winning back one South Florida congressional district: the seat held by U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Miami, who ousted scandal-plagued GOPer David Rivera in 2012.

Miami-Dade school board member Carlos Curbelo is the front-runner in fundraising and establishment endorsements in a crowded GOP primary set for Aug. 26. That makes him the target of some of his opponents, including Ed MacDougall, the mayor of Cutler Bay.

MacDougall portrays Curbelo as a Democrat — a serious charge in a GOP primary (though overall the Miami-Dade/Monroe district now leans to the left).

In both a flier and a radio ad in Spanish, MacDougall portrays Curbelo as a defender of the Affordable Care Act, the law pushed by Democrats and President Barack Obama.

On radio the narrator says, “ Se opone a la apelación de Obamacare” (Our translation is “he opposes the appeal of Obamacare” but the ad is trying to refer to the “repeal” of Obamacare.).

MacDougall is trying to get the votes of Republicans who support repeal. When we contacted MacDougall’s campaign, we received this response about his position: “Obamacare must be repealed, with no strings attached.”

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans, has voted more than 50 times to repeal Obamacare as a symbolic protest to the legislation. The Democratic-led Senate has refused to vote on the House bill.

We decided to fact-check whether Curbelo opposes the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

IN HIS WORDS

A spokesman for MacDougall pointed to a December 2013 Miami Herald’s Naked Politics blog for Curbelo’s comments related to repeal.

The blog related to a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad that accused Curbelo of being part of “obsessive repeal efforts” to get rid of the health care law.

The Miami Herald interviewed Curbelo and politics reporter Marc Caputo wrote:

“Curbelo, in an email, suggested the ad is misleading because he doesn’t want full repeal: ‘I support substituting Obamacare with legislation that genuinely makes healthcare affordable for all — including those with pre-existing conditions — and that does not punish low income earners and those that employ them.’ ”

We found other statements in which Curbelo was highly critical of the healthcare law but didn’t mention whether he wants to repeal it.

In his speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in March, Curbelo portrayed the law as a jobs-killer: “Under this law, workers are discouraged from seeking the jobs that they need and employers are encouraged to suppress employee hours. … Obamacare is just the most recent example of the left’s misguided policies that close the path of upward social mobility for those that have the desire to grow and achieve more for themselves and their families.”

On his campaign website, Curbelo states that the law “has increased the cost of healthcare for millions of Americans and is threatening our economic recovery. A law that gives the IRS an outsized role in our healthcare system, considers 30 hours a full work week, and cuts funding for Medicare is at best, deeply flawed.”

The Miami Herald editorial board questionnaire asked respondents whether they support the law, and Curbelo replied “no,” but he did not specifically use the word “repeal.”

Curbelo told PolitiFact Florida in an email, “I clearly do not support the law and think it is bad policy. … However I prefer to use the word ‘replace’ or ‘substitute’ Obamacare because to just say ‘repeal’ implies that there is no need for healthcare reform. But yes, if we replace or substitute Obamacare, that means it would no longer exist.”

While he wants to replace the law, he agrees with at least a couple of policy goals within it that we asked him about.

“I agree with extending access to the healthcare system to people with pre-existing conditions. I believe that to be a worthy policy goal. I do not agree with the inefficient manner in which the ACA achieves that goal. I do not oppose letting young people stay on their family’s plans a little longer. 26 is probably too long — maybe 23 or 24. We have to remember there is a cost to all of this.”

Curbelo directed us to a couple of sentences in an interview he gave in January to a Spanish-language show a Fondo.

We translated the line this way: “Ideally, we need to get rid of/eliminate this law and start over, but that’s not going to happen. So we need to sit down and rewrite the bad parts of this law.”

OUR RULING

MacDougall said that Curbelo “opposes the repeal of Obamacare.”

MacDougall points to an interview Curbelo gave in December in which he said he was against total repeal but wanted to replace the law. In subsequent interviews, Curbelo called for a substantial overhaul of the law.

MacDougall’s statement could leave voters with the false impression that Curbelo is a straight-up supporter of the healthcare law. Curbelo supports at least a couple of policy goals in the law — such as providing coverage to those with pre-existing conditions — but overall he is very critical of the law.

The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression.

We rate this claim Mostly False.

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