Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott (R) bills himself as a political outsider, but when it comes to answering questions about his questionable stewardship of Columbia/HCA — a for-profit hospital chain that paid a record $1.7 billion in fines for massively defrauding the Medicare program during the 1990s — Scott has one of the most polished and rehearsed answers in the business.
The Wonk Room examined three different interviews with Scott on CNN’s John King Tonight (8/26), CNN’s American Morning (8/27), and FNC’s America Live (8/28), and noticed that Scott gave an identical, formulaic 5-part reply when questioned about his business record:
1. Notes that his primary opponent, Florida AG Bill McCollum, already attacked him for his record and he lost.
2. Mentions that he invested his life savings — $125,000 — in Columbia/HCA.
3. Recites the company’s achievements: high patient satisfaction, expanded company with 285,000 employees.
4. Then, when pressed on the fraud, he explains that business people make mistakes and that he’s taken responsibility for his.
5. Conversely, Politicians never take responsibility. He has and he will as governor.
Watch a compilation:
There may be ways for journalists to avoid listening to Scott’s polished recitations. For instance, Scott should be asked:
1. You’ve said that you want to do for hospitals “what McDonald’s has done in the food business” and “what Wal-Mart has done in the retail business?” Do you still believe this?
2. You’ve said, “Where do we draw the line? Is any fast-food restaurant obligated to feed everyone who shows up?” Do you believe hospitals should treat everyone who shows up?
3. After you were ousted by the HCA/Columbia board, you received “a $9.88 million severance package, along with 10 million shares of stock worth up to $300 million at the time.” Given that you’re now admitting to mistakes, do you think you deserved so much money?
4. You say you’ve taken responsibility, but then why did you invoke your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination 75 times during a 2000 deposition about your time as head of Columbia/HCA?
5. Since you’re running for governor on your admittedly less than stellar business record and asking people to trust that you’ve learned from your past mistakes, why don’t you release the deposition you gave on behalf of Solantic, a chain of urgent care clinics that have been accused of unsavory business practices?