Miami Herald: For-profit government in Florida

March 30, 2011- The quote that might best sum up Florida Gov. Rick Scott came in 1994, when he was still president of Columbia/HCA.

Scott was among those opposing “Hillarycare” — the Clinton administration’s failed attempt at healthcare reform, and pushing for privatization of Medicare. He claimed companies like his could do a better job running not just Medicare, but also Medicaid and Veterans Administration hospitals.

“Let us make a profit. So what?” Scott told USA Today.

Of course, Columbia/HCA made its profit by lying to the federal government about the services it provided Medicare, Medicaid and military TRICARE patients, and by giving doctors “loans” they didn’t have to repay as incentives to refer more patients, and more profits, to its hospitals.

Why rehash this history?

Because it indicates that Rick Scott is to business what a shark is to the ocean — a mindless, glassy-eyed profit eater.

In a contest of trust, I’d take the shark.

Florida’s ethics laws are supposed to prevent him from making money on his $70 million investment in the governorship. But whether he profits now or profits later, Rick Scott’s policies clearly stand to benefit his family’s bottom line.

At issue is Solantic, the chain of walk-in clinics Scott founded in 2001. Scott spent millions of dollars via his Astroturf group Conservatives for Patients Rights in 2009 fighting the horror of more people getting health insurance — and thus not needing Solantic’s services.

Today, Scott’s $62 million Solantic investment is safely in the hands of his homemaker wife. You know, for ethical purposes.

If he succeeds in killing a pill mill database to track Oxycontin doctor-shopping by the Rush Limbaughs of the world (replaced by an $800,000 “strike force . . . !”), it could benefit both Solantic and Pharmaca, a pharmacy and herbal remedy chain that’s one of Scott’s lesser-known investments. Pharmaca got a $5.5 million cash injection from Richard L. Scott Investments, LLC, in 2003.

And there’s the potential Solantic bonanza from Scott and the GOP’s plan to drug test welfare recipients and the entire Florida public workforce, despite zero evidence of masses of struggling single moms, teachers, police officers and administrative personnel working while high.


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