F is for…

Rick Scott won the Republican primary for governor in Florida last night:

A businessman who became an outspoken critic of President Obama’s health care law has won Florida’s GOP primary for governor, besting the state’s attorney general.

Health care executive Rick Scott, who pumped $39 million of his own money into the race, hammered opponent Bill McCollum with a series of attack ads after jumping into the competitive race this spring and positioning himself as a conservative outsider.

Scott, 57, will face Florida’s chief financial officer, Alex Sink, who is running to become the Sunshine State’s first female governor. Also in the race: Independent candidate Bud Chiles.

Let’s take a quick trip down reminder lane. NYT:

Once lauded for building Columbia/HCA into the largest health care company in the world, Mr. Scott was ousted by his own board of directors in 1997 amid the nation’s biggest health care fraud scandal. The company’s guilty plea and payment of $1.7 billion to settle charges including the overbilling of state and federal health programs was taken as a repudiation of Mr. Scott’s relentless bottom-line approach.

“He hopes people don’t Google his name,” said John E. Hartwig, a former deputy inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, one of various state and federal agencies that investigated Columbia/HCA when Mr. Scott was its chief executive.

Oh, we Googled. Forbes:

[HCA] increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors “loans” that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.


Under former Chief Executive Richard Scott, it bought hospitals by the bucketful and promised to squeeze blood from each one.

Scott was forced to resign in the wake of the initial fraud charges in 1997.

Media Matters has a full dossier. Florida voters should be particularly interested in this kind of information:

Columbia/HCA Eliminated 1,000 Hospital Beds In Dade County, Florida. According to the Omaha World Herald, “Columbia/HCA has bought eight general hospitals in Dade County since December 1988. It closed two hospitals and transferred some general medical services out of a third to eliminate 1,000 acute-care hospital beds.” [Omaha World Herald, 3/19/95]

Scott sacrificed patient care to cut costs. In Florida. And guess where he made a good chunk of the money he’s now spending to run for office:

According to the Florida Times-Union, Richard L. Scott left Columbia/HCA “with a $10 million severance package and 10 million shares of stock valued at more than $300 million.” [Florida Times-Union, 6/21/06]

This is Rick Scott:

From my letter to The Hill about Scott published 5/6/09:

In what is perhaps the most outrageous claim of Rick Scott’s latest diatribe, the former hospital chain CEO who was forced to resign just before his company paid out $1.7 billion in penalties and fines — the largest in U.S. history — for defrauding the government, making illegal deals, filing false data, granting kickbacks to doctors, and overbilling Medicare — accuses Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) of wanting to “cook the books” to pay for healthcare reform. Just because Scott ran a corporation that believed in making money at the expense of honesty and good healthcare does not mean anyone else believes that’s a justifiable strategy.

The Nation on Scott from March 11, 2009 titled Healthcare Enemy No. 1:

Having Scott lead the charge against healthcare reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation. You see, the for-profit hospital chain Scott helped found–the one he ran and built his entire reputation on–was discovered to be in the habit of defrauding the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

It took a little while, but eventually the news caught on, and even Fox couldn’t ignore Scott’s shady past:

When Scott didn’t like the TV ad HCAN ran against him, he sent out a fundraising email saying Comcast pulled the ad off the air, and people should give him money. Small problem there. It wasn’t true. None of it. The ad came down because the ad buy ended as scheduled, and Comcast had to issue a statement countering Scott’s b.s. claims. Here’s more from The Huffington Post.

Scott likes words that begin with “f”: fraud, falsification, fabrication. Now he wants to be governor of Florida.

I say we teach him one more “f” word. Fail.

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