Republican governor Rick Scott's push to privatize Medicaid in Florida is highly controversial—not least because the health care business Scott handed over to his wife when he took office could reap a major profit if the legislation becomes law.
Scott and Florida Republicans are currently trying to enact a sweeping Medicaid reform bill that would give HMOs and other private health care companies unprecedented control over the government health care program for the poor. Among the companies that stand to benefit from the bill is Solantic, a chain of urgent-care clinics aimed at providing emergency services to walk-in customers.
The Florida governor founded Solantic in 2001, only a few years after he resigned as the CEO of hospital giant Columbia/HCA amid a massive Medicare fraud scandal. In January, he transferred his $62 million stake in Solantic to his wife, Ann Scott, a homemaker involved in various charitable organizations.
Florida Democrats and independent legal experts say this handover hardly absolves Scott of a major conflict of interest. As part of a federally approved pilot program that began in 2005, certain Medicaid patients in Florida were allowed to start using their Medicaid dollars at private clinics like Solantic. The Medicaid bill that Scott is now pushing would expand the pilot privatization program to the entire state of Florida, offering Solantic a huge new business opportunity.
"This is a conflict of interest that raises a serious ethical issue," says Marc Rodwin, a medical ethics professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. "The public should be thinking and worrying about this."
With Scott's blessing, the Florida statehouse is currently hammering out the final details of the Medicaid bill, with a vote expected in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, Scott has moved forward on another front that could also bring new business to Solantic. On Tuesday, he signed an executive order requiring random drug testing of many state employees and applicants for state jobs. He's also urged state legislators to pass a similar bill that would require drug testing of poor Floridians applying for welfare.
Among the services that Solantic offers: drug testing.
Yep, that's right: the whole point of Rick Scott's push to privatize health care that the state of Florida provides is to push business to urgent care clinic chains like the one he founded and that his wife now owns.
Just like his plans to privatize state hospitals and the Florida school system, his plans to force Florida's unemployed to do unpaid community service to keep benefits while killing tens of thousands of high speed rail jobs, his plans to eliminate corporate taxes and slash funding for everything else, and his plans to disenfranchise felons who have served their time, everything Rick Scott does is designed to take Florida taxpayer money and political power and put it in the pockets of the state's business elite, starting with Rick Scott...
...and it's only been two months.
The guy is a cartoon evildoer, and yet Florida is stuck with his completely transparent efforts to raid the state's billions and make himself near dictator.
Under a provision added to a rulemaking bill that cleared a House panel Wednesday, Gov. Rick Scott and members of the state cabinet may soon be able to bypass normal procedures and repeal hundreds of state agency rules currently under review by using an expedited “summary process.”
Patricia Nelson, of the governor’s Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform, told the House rulemaking committee Wednesday that the review period will come to an end on April 4, and that the proposed changes will allow the executive branch to eliminate hundreds of unnecessary and obsolete rules, a process that would be costly and burdensome under the existing procedures.
And of course those "unnecessary and obsolete rules" are anything that Rick Scott doesn't agree with, and any rules that Florida's business elite don't want.
Scott's set up to pillage the entire state and leave it a smoking wreck in his wake...and he won't care, because he'll have his billions. The rest of the state can go screw itself.
Dude's about as vile as it gets.