Rick Scott, a disgraced ex-hospital executive and anti-health care reform propagandist is poised to be the Republican nominee for governor in Florida. Still, Scott is dogged by legal trouble. The Miami Herald reports today that Scott and his health care company are hiding details about nearly a dozen lawsuits against them, lawsuits which “portray the company, and sometimes Scott by extension, as a ruthless employer who discriminated or cut corners in pursuit of profit”:
Just six days before Rick Scott announced his bid for governor, he was deposed in a case that alleged his healthcare company Solantic had broken Florida law by filing false medical licensing information with the state.
But what Scott said April 7 might never be known to the public.
Within a month, Solantic settled the 2-year-old case and signed a confidentiality agreement with Dr. P. Mark Glencross, who claimed his medical license was misused by the Jacksonville-based chain of walk-in clinics. …
The Glencross lawsuit — along with nine other court actions filed against the company since 2001 in Duval County — tells a different story. Taken together, they portray the company, and sometimes Scott by extension, as a ruthless employer who discriminated or cut corners in pursuit of profit.
In all but one case, the plaintiffs, Scott and Solantic’s chief executive officer, Karen Bowling, said they could not talk about what happened because they had signed confidentiality agreements. Bowling said Solantic settled the cases at the behest of its insurance company, which found that protracted court fights were too expensive.
Between 2003 and 2005, “five Solantic employees and two job applicants claim that the company regularly discriminated against people who were overweight or minorities.”
Scott has a rough history with the law. Another company he led, Columbia Hospital Corporation/Hospital Corporation of America, pled guilty to fraud charges and paid a settlement of $1.7 billion — the largest in U.S. history — in 2000. “Columbia/HCA systematically defrauded taxpayers,” wrote Lee Fang on the Wonk Room, “charging Medicare $15,000 for Tiffany pitchers and other luxury goods, ‘exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating,’ and engineering a program where doctors were granted partnerships in hospitals as a kickback for referring patients” when Scott was at the helm.
Of course, Scott’s record of health care fraud isn’t limited to his business behavior. When Congress was debating health care, he launched Conservatives for Patients Rights as an anti-reform front group, regurgitated discredited talking points in a 30-minute advocacy infomercial, and coordinated an obstruction strategy with industry lobbyists.
Florida’s Republican establishment is uneasy with a potential Scott nomination, and the state’s former governor Jeb Bush will try to boost Bill McCollum, Scott’s GOP rival, with “a statewide fly-around Monday, the first day of early voting.”