Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 26, 2011

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: DON'T ELECT A CRIMINAL TO BE GOVERNOR.... Before inexplicably becoming the governor of the state of Florida, Republican Rick Scott's most notable accomplishment was pulling off a major health care scam, defrauding taxpayers, and narrowly avoiding a criminal indictment.

That felonious background is of particular interest given Scott's new scheme to "reform" Medicaid, which may make him an even wealthier man. Suzy Khimm had this rather remarkable report yesterday.

Republican governor Rick Scott's push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial -- not least because the health care business Scott handed over to his wife when he took office could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law.

Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers. The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.

Florida Democrats and independent legal experts say this handover hardly absolves Scott of a major conflict of interest. As part of a federally approved pilot program that began in 2005, certain Medicaid patients in Florida were allowed to start using their Medicaid dollars at private clinics like Solantic. The Medicaid bill that Scott is now pushing would expand the pilot privatization program to the entire state of Florida, offering Solantic a huge new business opportunity.

This happens to coincide with a new Scott initiative: mandatory drug testing for state employees, state job applicants, and welfare recipients.

Care to guess what Florida company would stand to make a lot of money administering these wildly unnecessary drug tests? If you guessed, "Solantic," you're right.

Even at face value, the governor's privatization scheme is itself a mess, slashing funding and inviting fraud. But even if we put merit aside, Scott is pushing a controversial measure that stands to put millions of tax dollars into his own family's bank account, profiting from a government-run health care plan after running on a platform in opposition to government-run health care.

I also enjoyed Ezra's take on this: "In the 1990s, [Scott] made his money off single-payer health-care programs by cheating them. Today, he's making his money off single-payer health-care programs by running them. No matter how you look at it, it's a step up."

Steve Benen 10:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (11)

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Comments

We should change our national motto from E Pluribus Unum to Caveat Emptor.

Posted by: Paul Murphy on March 26, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

Actually, the motto is, "In god We Trust," which is Republicanese for "Caveat Emptor."

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 26, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Well, since one of the definitions of Fascism is government and corporations being in cahoots together, I'll have to compare Scott to Mussolini, since Godwins Law forbids me to mention the other guy.

Plus, the other guy wasn't greedy for money, just power and land. Mussolini, on the other hand, was a corrupt old bastard.

If any of you are lawyers, please explain to me how what Scott's doing is legal?

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 26, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Does Florida's constitution permit impeachment of a sitting governor? I don't know what this is if it's not an impeachable offense. A conflict of interest like this would send any lower-ranked public official to prison.

Posted by: T-Rex on March 26, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Let's forget all the other news and concentrate on the important issue of the day: Which talk show is John McCain on today and what are his new positions on the issues? As for governor Scott of Florida, it's like the last line of an old song recorded by Johnny Rivers: "You knew darn well I was a snake before you took me in." Considering this guy's history, this is probably just the tip of what will prove to be a very large iceberg. To rob a bank, you need a gun. To rob the government, you need to be in the health care business. I mean this is a state that attracts drug tourists from all over the country who come to Florida to get a supply of oxycotin at one of the hundreds of pain management clinics around the state. I wonder how many of Gov Scott's emergency care clinics include pain management on their menu of services????

Posted by: sparky on March 26, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Rick Scott is the darling king of the blue hair set. Preying on the elderly will earn him the hot seat in the hereafter! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 26, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Why The Justice Dept didn't prosecute Scott is a mystery to me. Martha Stewart went to prison for a phone call yet Scott left HCA/Columbia with a million dollar buyout and the records sealed.

Maybe the Frist family, HCA/Columbia owners, wanted incriminating documents out of public view. I mean, Bill had his eye on running for Senate and a nasty fraud scandal would have interrupted his plans.

Posted by: jcgrim on March 26, 2011 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Unfortunately for me, I must agree with Cenk Uyger when he said to Alan Grayson, "I can't believe you lost to this guy." A painfully pithy aside, if you will.

Posted by: mpilkanis on March 26, 2011 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

jcgrim

Martha Stewart went to prison for lying to the Feds.

Posted by: Maude on March 26, 2011 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

@MPILK: Did we miss part of your comment? Grayson was not Scott's opponent.

Posted by: Alli on March 26, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

sparky, rush limbaugh must be in seventh heaven...

Posted by: Michael on March 26, 2011 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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