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Rick Scott: Putting Profits Before People

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"Rick Scott: Putting Profits Before People"

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ThinkProgress Video Report Exposes Profits-Driven Ideology And Scandal-Plagued History Of Leading Right-Wing Health Reform Opponent Rick Scott

VIDEO NARRATOR: There is a health care crisis in America today. 14,000 people are losing their health care every day. Businesses and families are struggling to cope with skyrocketing costs. And we are all paying more because our system fails to cover everyone. Right now a debate is underway: should we reform our health care system, or keep the broken status quo?

FACT: Study Reports 14,000 Americans Are Losing Health Care Every Day. A report by the Center for American Progress found that, “Since the recession began, an estimated 4 million additional Americans have lost their health insurance and 2 million have become uninsured. The recent turmoil in the job market is likely increasing the number of uninsured at the rate of 14,000 a day. And yet, congressional conservatives opposed efforts to stop the ero¬sion of our health care system and help millions of Americans hold on to the coverage they have or get it for the first time.” [Center for American Progress report Healthcare In Crisis, accessed 5/28/09]

LED BY RICK SCOTT, CONSERVATIVES ARE SPENDING MILLIONS TO BLOCK REFORM AND KEEP THE BROKEN STATUS QUO.

NARRATOR: Those who want reform are meeting stiff opposition from those who don’t — companies and people who profit from the broken system — or worse, who want to take their profits-at-all-cost, profits-over-people vision of health care even further.

FACT: Conservative Groups Mobilizing “Against Health Care Reform.” CBS news reported: “The nonprofit Americans for Prosperity Foundation launched a new campaign called Patients United Now ‘to educate citizens about the threat of government controlled health care.’ […] Meanwhile, the group Conservatives for Patients’ Rights began airing on Wednesday a 30-minute documentary-style video entitled ‘End of Patient’s Rights — The Human Consequences of Government-Run Health Care.’” [CBS News, 5/27/09]

NARRATOR: These forces of opposition are pouring millions of dollars into TV ads.

FACT: Conservatives For Patients Rights Planning To Spend $20 Million Opposing Health Care Reform. The Nation reported: “he name may not exactly be a household word, or it may ring a faint bell, but Politico recently reported that the millionaire Republican would be heading up Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), a new group that plans to spend around $20 million to kill President Obama’s efforts at healthcare reform.” [The Nation, 5/11/09]

FACT: Rick Scott Intends To Spend His Own Wealth, Gained Through His Health Care Enterprises, To Fund His Health Care Attack Group. The Washington Post reported: “Scott is using $5 million of his own money and up to $15 million more from supporters to try to build resistance to any government-run program.” [Washington Post, 5/11/09]

NARRATOR: The leader of the forces opposing reform is Rick Scott, a once-powerful health care executive who opposed health care reform and built the Columbia health care empire during the 1990s — but was forced to resign in disgrace.

FACT: Rick Scott Founded Conservatives For Patients Rights, Serves As Chairman. The Washington Post reported that Rick Scott is the “founder of a group called Conservatives for Patients’ Rights.” [Washington Post, 5/11/09]

FACT: Rick Scott Resigned Amid Fraud Investigation Of His Hospitals. Forbes reported: “The company 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. […] Scott was forced to resign in the wake of the initial fraud charges in 1997.” [Forbes, 12/15/00]

NARRATOR: Scott’s company was charged with fraud — but even worse were the horror stories that came to light about abuse and negligence in the hospitals he ran. Closed hospitals, babies left unmonitored, staff stretched to the breaking point, filthy conditions — all because Rick Scott ran his hospitals like AIG: pursue profits at all costs, never mind the consequences for regular people.

FACT: Rick Scott’s Hospital Corporation Ripped Off Taxpayers, Charged Medicare For Tiffany Pitchers. According to the Sun-Sentinel, a GAO audit found Rick Scott’s Hospital Corporation of America overcharged Medicare for nearly $ 1.1 million in “expenses that auditors have called questionable, unallowable or unsubstantiated.” Examples include: “$53,657 for trips to Italy, Belgium and Australia, made in connection with the sale of foreign hospitals, which don’t usually serve Medicare patients, $52,487 for employee Christmas gifts that included, $17,755 for booze at various employee meetings and functions, $14,912 for Tiffany pitchers for hospital executives.” [Sun-Sentinel, 11/11/93]

FACT: Rick Scott’s Company Was Forced To Pay The Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement In U.S. History. The Department of Justice announced: “HCA Inc. (formerly known as Columbia/HCA and HCA – The Healthcare Company) has agreed to pay the United States $631 million in civil penalties and damages arising from false claims the government alleged it submitted to Medicare and other federal health programs, the Justice Department announced today. […] Combined with today’s separate administrative settlement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under which HCA will pay an additional $250 million to resolve overpayment claims arising from certain of its cost reporting practices, the government will have recovered $1.7 billion from HCA, by far the largest recovery ever reached by the government in a health care fraud investigation.” [Department of Justice, 06/26/03]

RICK SCOTT’S PROFIT-DRIVEN MODEL PUT PROFITS AHEAD OF PEOPLE, SACRIFICED THE QUALITY OF CARE.

NARRATOR: Today, that same right-wing ideology is driving Rick Scott’s efforts to kill health reform once again. Now that he’s back, Americans deserve to know — who is Rick Scott, and what does he want to do to our health care system?

FACT: Rick Scott Is Credited With Bringing The Profit-Focused Wall Street Model To Health Care. CNN reported: “Scott was furiously building his startup, Columbia Hospital Corp., into a giant – and imposing an alien culture of profit making on an industry dominated by nonprofits. […] The cost-cutting, profit-incentive culture he brought to the business earned him a reputation as the Sam Walton of health care – with all the acclaim and derision that label suggests. Wall Street adored him: From 1990 to 1997 the company’s stock rose 380%. But local communities, rallied by nonprofit hospitals that feared Scott’s competition, objected to the arrival of for-profit hospitals. Scott began to earn bad press-and the attention of regulators.” [CNN, 4/9/09]

FACT: Rick Scott’s Cost Cutting Strategy Reduced Care And Lead To Deplorable Conditions. ABC News reported that Susan Marks, a technician at one of Scott’s hospitals, was forced to monitor 72 heart monitors by her self. Marks explained, “I have to. I’ve been told you either do it, or there’s the door.” The New York Times reported Scott downsized nursing staffs, created conditions where “babies were attended as infrequently as every three hours. Once, the only nurse caring for seven ill infants was so busy she failed to hear an alarm when a baby stopped breathing. A parent dashed to the baby and stimulated breathing, the state report said.” 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.” In addition, Mahar detailed how California employees protested “filthy conditions,” and being “stretched to the limit” as Scott’s company slashed “the ratio of nurses to patients.” [Money Driven Medicine, pg. 119; ABC News, 9/26/97; New York Times, 5/11/97]

FACT: Rick Scott Closed Down Non-Profit Hospitals As Part Of His Business Strategy. The Nation reported: “He promised to put nonprofit hospitals–which he insisted on referring to as “nontaxpaying” hospitals–out of business and touted his company’s single-minded pursuit of profit as a model for the nation’s entire healthcare system.” [The Nation, 5/11/09]

NARRATOR: Scott sought to turn his hospitals into the McDonald’s of the health care industry. Rather than focusing on care, he focused on stamping out competition and maximizing profits.

FACT: Rick Scott’s Company Became “Known As The McDonald’s Of Health Care.” The Palm Beach Post reported: “That was the first step in helping Columbia become known as the McDonald’s of health care, company officials said. But so far, that goal remains a distant dream – largely because of negative perceptions in many communities that Columbia puts profits over health care.” [Palm Beach Post, 05/19/97]

NARRATOR: The methods employed by Rick Scott’s company did cut costs – but they also threatened patients’ care, choices and safety. Doctors complained about cheap medical equipment. Gloves only came in one size, and ripped easily. Nursing staffs were downsized, leading to conditions where “babies were attended as infrequently as every three hours. One nurse was forced to care for seven sick infants. At one point, she was so busy that she failed to hear an alarm when a baby stopped breathing. Out of luck, a parent noticed that the baby wasn’t breathing, and saved its life. And one report called a Columbia owned-hospital “Just plain dirty.”

FACT: Rick Scott’s Cost Cutting Strategy Reduced Care And Lead To Deplorable Conditions. ABC News reported that Susan Marks, a technician at one of Scott’s hospitals, was forced to monitor 72 heart monitors by her self. Marks explained, “I have to. I’ve been told you either do it, or there’s the door.” The New York Times reported Scott downsized nursing staffs, created conditions where “babies were attended as infrequently as every three hours. Once, the only nurse caring for seven ill infants was so busy she failed to hear an alarm when a baby stopped breathing. A parent dashed to the baby and stimulated breathing, the state report said.” 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.” In addition, Mahar detailed how California employees protested “filthy conditions,” and being “stretched to the limit” as Scott’s company slashed “the ratio of nurses to patients.” [Money Driven Medicine, pg. 119; ABC News, 9/26/97; New York Times, 5/11/97]

RICK SCOTT’S COMPANY DEFRAUDED THE GOVERNMENT, AND SCOTT RESIGNED IN DISGRACE.

NARRATOR: The problems with Columbia Hospitals didn’t end there. Scott’s company made billions, in part, by systematically defrauding the government. Scott’s company eventually settled with the U.S. government to the tune of $1.7 billion dollars for stealing from Medicare and Medicaid. It was the single largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history. He resigned in disgrace.

FACT: Rick Scott’s Company Was Forced To Pay The Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement In U.S. History. The Department of Justice announced: “HCA Inc. (formerly known as Columbia/HCA and HCA – The Healthcare Company) has agreed to pay the United States $631 million in civil penalties and damages arising from false claims the government alleged it submitted to Medicare and other federal health programs, the Justice Department announced today. […] Combined with today’s separate administrative settlement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under which HCA will pay an additional $250 million to resolve overpayment claims arising from certain of its cost reporting practices, the government will have recovered $1.7 billion from HCA, by far the largest recovery ever reached by the government in a health care fraud investigation.” [Department of Justice, 06/26/03]

THE CHOICE IS CLEAR: RICK SCOTT’S PROFITS-AT-ALL COSTS VISION OF HEALTH CARE, OR REFORM THAT LOWERS COSTS AND PROVIDES GREATER ACCESS AND CHOICE FOR ALL AMERICANS.

NARRATOR: Today, Rick Scott is back and leading the efforts to stop us from reforming our health care system. Now that we know what his vision for our health care system looks like, the question is – will the public buy what Rick Scott is selling? Will we let him block efforts to provide access to all Americans, and give more choice and stability to those who already have health care? Or will we let Rick Scott impose his profits-at-all costs vision of health care on America once again – and do nothing to fix the high costs and instability that are causing hardship for millions of hard-working Americans? The choice is up to you.