May 12, 2009

Rachel Maddow reports on the man who has been described by Chris Hayes as Healthcare Enemy No. 1, Rick Scott and why the Republicans may be sorry they've allowed him to be the face of opposition to health care reform. As Hayes reports:

Rush Limbaugh offers Democrats an irresistible target as the de facto leader of the Republican Party, but for my money, Rick Scott is the man who best embodies the spirit of the current conservative opposition. The name may not exactly be a household word, or it may ring a faint bell, but Politico recently reported that the millionaire Republican would be heading up Conservatives for Patients' Rights (CPR), a new group that plans to spend around $20 million to kill President Obama's efforts at healthcare reform.

Having Scott lead the charge against healthcare reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation. You see, the for-profit hospital chain Scott helped found--the one he ran and built his entire reputation on--was discovered to be in the habit of defrauding the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

This is the man who will be delivering what Politico called the "pro-free-market message."

You can read more about Scott in his article at The Nation.

From the AFL/CIO Blog Health Care Reform Opponent Outed: Scott a Hospital CEO With Shady Past:

The former CEO of Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America who was forced to resign in 1997 amid fraud charges, as well as the group that launched the infamous “Swift Boat” attack on the 2004 presidential bid of Sen. John Kerry, are now trying to sink health care reform.

But Health Care for America NOW! (HCAN), which supports health care reform, last week launched a television ad (left) detailing the “dubious past in the health care industry” of anti-health care reform front man Rick Scott.

According HCAN, after Scott was forced to resign from the health care giant in the wake of fraud charges, Columbia/HCA agreed to pay $1.7 billion in fines and penalties—the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.

Says HCAN in a statement:

The hospital corporation pleaded guilty to a litany of criminal and civil charges including lying to the government about how sick patients were so they could collect larger fees.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported this morning that Scott is using $5 million of his own money, plus another $15 million from donors he refuses to name, to finance the “swift boating” of President Obama’s health care reform initiatives. The Post reports that PRC Public Relations, the group that slimed Kerry’s Vietnam War record, is coordinating the campaign.

Steve Benen:

SCOTT TAKES CENTER STAGE.... I'm going to guess that in the not too distant future, conservatives are going to regret letting Rick Scott lead the way on health care.

Scott has hired the public-relations firm behind the Swiftboat lies from 2004, and together they've already produced an ad campaign with a message that isn't even close to reality.

More important, though, is the dynamic of pitting Rick Scott against policy makers committed to reform. Mark Kleiman noted last night, "If I were a Republican, I don't think this is the ally I'd want to have out front." Given Scott's background, he's making this easy.

Here's Healthcare For America's ad on Rick Scott.

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