This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.
Rick Scott is the Republican governor of Florida since January 2011. In the bitter 2010 primary election alone, he spent over $50 million of his own money to defeat Bill McCollum (R) by a narrow 3 percentage points.
Rick Scott is a multimillionaire former hospital CEO who, in 2009, emerged as a prominent leader of the opposition to U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans. Scott founded a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights and put $5 million of his own money towards a television advertising campaign aimed at trying to build resistance to any proposal for a government-run health insurance program. Scott's ad campaign is being coordinated by CRC Public Relations, the group that masterminded the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" attacks against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry. In the ads, Scott argues that whatever effort Obama likely puts forth to change the health-care system, it will put the country on a slippery slope toward a bureaucratic, British-style national health service.
Fighting healthcare reform
According to the Politico news site, Scott has raised $20 million to fight health care reform.
Maggie Mahar at the Century Foundation's Health Beat blog has written about Scott in her book, Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Healthcare Costs So Much. She reports that Scott previously started a for-profit hospital chain in 1987 that later became the $23 billion Columbia/HCA. He was ousted from this post in 1997 after:
- the FBI swooped down on HCA hospitals in five states. Within weeks, three executives were indicted on charges of Medicare fraud, and the board had ousted Scott.
- The investigation revealed that the hospital chain had been bilking Medicare while simultaneously handing over kickbacks and perks to physicians who steered patients to its hospitals. ... The company did not fight the charges. In 2000, HCA (which by then had expunged “Columbia” from its name) pleaded guilty to no fewer than 14 felonies. Over the next two years, it would pay a total of $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines.
In 1997, Scott was forced out as head of the Columbia/HCA healthcare company as the result of a fraud investigation conducted against the company in the 1990s. The firm eventually pleaded guilty to charges that it overbilled state and federal health plans, and paid the government a record $1.7 billion in fines. Scott argues that he was never charged with any crime and that other health-care companies have also received fines for overbilling. However, court records show that the illegal activities during his tenure as chief executive officer were so extensive that he knew or should have known about them. One of the government complaints alleges that he was actively involved in kickback schemes in which doctors were illegally given large incentives for making referrals. 
Scott was also once a partner in the Texas Rangers sports team with George W. Bush. He now runs an investment firm and owns a chain of walk-in urgent-care clinics in Florida called Solantic, which serves people who would benefit from having a "public option" for health insurance.
Attempting to coordinate other anti-health care reform groups against the "public option"
In October 2009, CNN obtained a memo in which Conservatives for Patients Rights leader Rick Scott urged opponents of reform to "synchronize their strategies" before attacking. Scott said CPR planned to remain focused on defeating the so-called "public option," a publicly-funded health insurance plan that would be affordable. He suggested to the other anti-reform groups that they each choose to focus their fire on "a single specific facet of each plan," like individual and employer mandates, "massive tax increases" or "deep cuts in Medicare."
In 2010, Scott ran for governor of Florida as a political outsider in a year that favored them. In the primary election, he delivered a big surprise when he defeated former Florida congressman and state Attorney General Bill McCollum (R) for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. In the fall election, Scott delivered yet another surprise when his Democratic opponent Alex Sink conceded the very close gubernatorial race.
Resources and articles
Related SourceWatch articles
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Rick Scott profile, The Washington Post, accessed January 2011.
- ↑ Jonathan Martin, "Group launches health care offensive", Politico.com, March 3, 2009.
- ↑ Maggie Mahar, "Who Is Richard Scott -- and Why Is He Saying These Things about Health Care Reform?", Health Beat, March 3, 2009.
- ↑ url = http://www.casewatch.org/doj/hca/schilling.pdf
- ↑ url = http://www.casewatch.org/doj/hca/thompson.pdf
- ↑ Zachary Roth Health-Reform Foe Runs Firm Serving Patients Who Would Benefit From Public Option TPM Muckraker, September 30, 2009
- ↑ Dan Eggen, Washington Post Ex-Hospital CEO Battles Reform Effort: Ads Cite Long Waits In Canada and Britain May 11, 2009
- ↑ Jeff Woods Health Care Enemy No. 1: Rick Scott Leads Fight Against Obama Reforms The Nashville Scene (blog), May 11, 2009
- ↑ Pete Hamby Health care critic advises 'divide and conquer' strategy CNN Political Ticker. October 19, 2009
- Joe Flower Rick Scott and the Columbia/HCA Healthcare System: Icon of Greed or Prophet of True Reform? Healthcare Forum Journal, March-April 1995, Vol. 38 #2
- Stephen Barrett, MD A Skeptical Look at Rick Sott and His Conservatives for Patients' Rights Propaganda Machine. Insurance Reform Watch, August 14, 2009.
- Greg Allen, "Gov. Scott, Ex-CEO, Aims To Run Fla. Like A Business", NPR, January 6, 2011.
- Website, Rick Scott governor, accessed January 2011.