Since his inauguration in January, new Florida Gov. Rick Scott has looked a lot like an Oxycontin addict.
Twice now, Scott has come out in opposition to tough rules that would crack down on the South Florida pill mills that dispense pain pills like Pez. The first time came just two weeks into his reign, when he announced he plans to delay new laws that would make it harder for doctors to practice at the pill clinics.
Then today, Health News Florida revealed that Scott does not favor new rules that are supposed to create a computer monitoring system of pain pill prescriptions. The rule would cut down on addicts and dealers who can now hit multiple clinics in a day and collect a year's supply of drugs as addictive as heroin.
It's not that we're proposing Scott is an addict himself. No, he's too spastic for that. But it has become clear he doesn't want the pain mills to close.
Scott hasn't come out and said it, and it's unlikely he ever would. But Scott is a governor elected on the promise to create jobs and help business. Consider that Scott's newly announced budget cuts $1.4 billion in corporate taxes, even at a time when the state faces a $3.6 billion hole in next year's budget. A governor who so favors businesses over practicality -- gutting their taxes while the common taxpayer picks up the bill -- just might be the type to want pain clinics to stay open to keep the pill mill industry rolling.
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Scott and his media office offered little in the way of explanation of his pain-pill-friendly stances. Spokeswoman Amy Graham didn't return my call yesterday. And in response to the Health News Florida story, she offered just a one-line emailed response to why Scott would object to a computer system to monitor pill mills: "He does not believe this is a function that is best performed by government."
Sure, Florida faces some tough decisions to fill that ten-figure budget shortfall. And sure, perhaps it is time to rethink the role of government, which admittedly does sound like a tea party rallying cry. But when we're cutting programs that would reign in pill mills, it's time to wonder about Scott's motivations. Oxycontin kills seven people a day in Florida -- more than illegal drugs -- and helping bring that deadly statistic to an end is exactly what government should be doing.