Rick Scott Stops Fighting Prescription Database, Warily

Hackers. That's the governor's new concern regarding a pain-pill prescription database being launched by the Department of Health. Scott originally opposed the database, saying it impinged on privacy and was better left to private enterprise (even though the state was in the midst of a bidding dispute with a private contractor to build the database). Then a pain pill maker offered to pay a million dollars -- paltry in the face of how much pill mills rake in on a weekly basis -- to fund it. It appeared Scott wouldn't budge.

He's acquiesced a bit, allowing the DOH to proceed with a database. But in testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives today, he's raising the specter of

privacy violations, citing a 2009 incident when hackers reportedly stole more than 8.2 million patient records from a similar database in Virginia.

"As the database implementation moves forward, I must draw your attention to a serious risk that I believe databases like this pose to the privacy of individuals -- most of whom are law-abiding individuals," he wrote in a speech prepared for a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

In the incident Scott referenced, hackers demanded a $10 million ransom from Virginia in May 2009 for return of the records. The breach was first reported by WikiLeaks, back before the outlet had gained notoriety for its dispatches on Afghanistan and the state department.

"Since my first days in office, I was told by law enforcement professionals at the state, county, and local level that we needed a coordinated, law enforcement response to this criminal plague. Something that, according to law enforcement, had been lacking in Florida," wrote Scott. We've given him a hard time for seeming to ignore that information... is he finally getting a different idea?

He continued to say he was "disappointed" that the first arrest made by his new anti-trafficking "Strike Force" was none other than a Broward County deputy sheriff.

In other news, Scott has agreed to sell -- reportedly at a loss -- his controversial stake in a chain of urgent-care clinics. The chain was facing legal actions, and Scott said he had to sell his stake for public-relations reasons. One can hope that his strong words to Congress are more than just another belated attempt to save face.

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