When Rick Scott starts considering hospital privatization, it's worth revisiting his past.
The Sun-Sentinel reported that Scott established a commission to investigate whether the state could trim a layer of budgetary fat by selling government-run hospitals to private companies and non-profits.
The panel will essentially run a cost-benefit analysis on the current hospital system, checking for wasted tax dollars and examining the best way to revamp the system to make it a boon for the state rather than a budgetary leech.
Scott's analysis of the system is reminiscent of the investigation that the government conducted on Columbia/HCA, the private hospital chain that he formerly ran. This 2010 Miami Herald article breaks up Scott's past into digestible bits that are worth chewing over. The gist is that Scott resigned from Columbia/HCA, which employed nearly 300,000 people, in 1997, the same year "federal agents went public with an investigation into the company." Columbia/HCA billed Medicare and Medicaid for unnecessary tests, among several other equally shady infractions.
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The Herald article continues, "In December 2000, the U.S. Justice Department announced what it called the largest government fraud settlement in U.S. history." The company paid $1.7 billion in fines. Scott was never charged with wrongdoing, and it's unclear "how much he knew, and when he knew it."
Government efficiency is certianly something to strive for, especially in these lean times. But Rick Scott's consideration of privatizing hospitals is something to think twice about. We expect heated debates on the horizon as the investigation moves ahead.
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