In addition to being a Florida senator and a villain from the Mummy film series because he scared Brendan Fraser too much, Rick Scott was, in varying stints, a hospital-chain executive and the governor of the Sunshine State. In both of those jobs, Scott showed utter contempt for poor people, the sick, and the concept of taxpayer-funded medicine — famously, in the '90s, the federal government caught his chain committing the largest act of Medicare fraud in American history. As governor, Scott was also credibly accused of chopping medical funding to the point it killed people.
So, in classic Scott fashion, he released a video yesterday stressing he loves Medicare and has spent his career trying to ensure Florida has the single best health-care system in the nation. A human being with a less demonically cursed soul might burst into flames for uttering something so brazenly false, but Scott has not yet combusted and thus continues to prove every single day that the concepts of karma and God are lies.
After stealing money from federal Medicare and Medicaid reserves while running the Columbia/HCA hospital system and then refusing to expand Medicaid statewide while he was governor, Scott's video yesterday included this jaw-dropping quote: "I wanted to make sure when I was governor that we had the best Medicaid program in the country."
Lying appears to be something of a theme for the senator lately. Last week, Scott — who infamously refused to even admit climate change was real and has a demonstrably poor water-quality and environmental record — sent a letter to a Miami environmentalist claiming as governor he did a bang-up job fighting global warming and sea-level rise. As New Times recapped last week, he most certainly did not.
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Now, Scott is pulling the same nonsense with his abysmal health-care record. He's trotting out a series of video clips in partnership with the Heritage Foundation, the ghoulish ultraconservative think tank that has taken money from the Koch brothers, the tobacco industry, and all sorts of gigantic corporations. Scott's latest entry in the series — about how Washington allegedly "wastes" taxpayer money on medical funding — is basically a series of lie from beginning to end.
Scott claims he tried to make decisions that benefited Florida's sick and needy while he was governor. But statistics showed that after his eight years in office, Florida still ranked among the bottom of all states in terms of basic health-care benchmarks, including the number of insured adults and children, the number of adults skipping hospital trips due to cost factors, and the number of adults without basic vaccines. It also ranked dead last in the nation when it came to hospitals failing to treat sick people, forcing them to return to a doctor for the same condition. The state also ranks among the worst in America when it comes to women's health-care and mental health-care access — and a 2018 study from the Commonwealth Foundation showed Florida had the fourth-worst health-care system in America. That study, importantly, came during Scott's final year in the governor's mansion, after he'd seemingly had ample time to fix those issues.
Instead, Scott took actions that hurt people. Most obvious, he refused to expand Medicaid to a larger group of people through the Affordable Care Act, a decision he made purely to undercut Obamacare and make the then-president look bad. Numerous studies have proven Medicaid expansion saves lives and cuts disease rates — and Scott chose otherwise simply because he despised Barack Obama. In 2016, South Florida activist Cara Jennings cornered Scott in a Gainesville Starbucks and called him an "asshole," but many forget she was angry because he had neglected to expand Medicaid.
Mere days ago, the Guardian uncovered even more startling details showing Scott was happy to let people contract diseases to help his political brand. The British newspaper uncovered that his administration intentionally blocked a $70 million funding boost that would have helped stop Floridians from contracting HIV — an important chunk of money because the state has the most HIV cases in the nation. But Scott, according to the newspaper, refused to accept the money, in part so he could continue to argue that Obamacare was failing Florida. Instead, it was Scott who was failing Floridians — and now he's trying his hardest to make sure his constituents forget any of this nonsense ever happened.