Last year, Rick Scott emerged as the public face of the right-wing forces dedicated to stopping health reform. As first reported by the Wonk Room, Scott hired the same Republican public relations firm that managed the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in 2004 to organize his campaign against health reform. Scott’s Conservatives for Patients’ Rights ran nasty, fact-less attack ads against the public option, encouraged Tea Party groups to ambush lawmakers at town halls, and lobbied aggressively (with the support of insurers) to block reform legislation.
Just as his attack group seemingly disappeared from the public discourse, Scott launched a new effort: to become the next Republican Governor of Florida. Scott’s website already seems to have difficulty distancing himself from his shady business dealings. Scott neglects to mention his disgraced business history, instead portraying himself as a “conservative outsider.” His website directs visitors to send campaign contributions to the same office as his private investment firm. In the past, his firm has invested heavily in technology firms instrumental in helping repressive regimes in Saudi Arabia and Iran.
As ThinkProgress has reported, before Scott entered politics, he made a career out of buying up hospitals and downsizing them for profit. But his quest for creating the “McDonald’s Of Health Care” ended abruptly in shame. As detailed in our report, not only was Scott forced to resign from his HCA corporation after paying $1.7 billion in penalties for the largest healthcare fraud settlement in history, much of his exploitation of hospitals actually occurred in Florida:
— Maggie Mahar wrote in Money Driven Medicine that doctors in Scott’s hospital workers in Florida complained, “gloves come in only one size, and rip easily.” [Money Driven Medicine, pg. 119]
— Scott bought community and nonprofit hospitals and turned them into profit driven companies. In Destin, Florida, Scott bought the community hospital with the intention of shutting it down to diminish competition. [San Diego Union, 12/8/96]
— Nine of Scott’s hospitals in South Florida were charged for systematically double-billing the government in one of the largest Medicare fraud schemes in history. [Tribune, 2/17/00]
Watch ThinkProgress’ mini-documentary on Rick Scott’s history of putting profits ahead of patients: