There was widespread surprise on the American political scene on February 20th when Tea Party/Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott announced his state would participate in the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. I was not among the surprised. When analyzing Republicans always remember the basics; the three pillars holding up today’s Republican Party are: greed, racism/bigotry and the promotion of ignorance.
Scott is more of a true Republican motivated primarily by greed. He simply rode the Tea Party wave to election in 2010. Scott only made his announcement after Florida was guaranteed a waiver to privatize Medicaid. Scott is experienced at “profiting” within the federal health care system. Obamacare is slated to bring an additional $66.1 billion dollars to Florida by 2022. (The projected cost to the State is $5.4 billion – a net of $60.7 billion.) I hate to say I told you so but below are the second, third and fourth paragraphs of my April 2, 2011 article, The Banishment of Rick Scott.
Scott has taken Greedonomics to a level never before seen. Most Republicans do their reverse Robin Hood act to benefit their supporters. Scott is staying a little closer to home, well actually about as close to home as you can get. He has proposed legislation to institute mandatory quarterly drug testing for Florida’s state employees. Interestingly, Scott made his considerable fortune in the health care business and prior to the campaign placed his $62 million stake in Solantic in his wife’s name. Among Solantic’s services is drug testing. It would appear this new legislation would provide Solantic with some new customers who the State of Florida would be picking up the tab for.
He is also proposing transferring Medicaid in Florida to privately run managed care programs. You guessed it Solantic does a lot of business with privately run managed care programs.
In case you think I’m just another left wing conspiracy theorist, let’s examine Scott’s past. In 1997 he resigned as CEO of Columbia/HCA, at that time the largest for profit health care company in America. His resignation was amid a scandal over fraudulent business practices that included Medicare billing practices and kickbacks. During a 2000 deposition Scott took the Fifth Amendment 75 times. Don’t feel sorry for Scott he left with a $9.88 million golden parachute and stock worth $350 million. The case was finally settled with Columbia/HCA paying $1.7 billion in fines for fraudulent activities.
With over $60 billion in play there is a return on investment for the Scott family somewhere.
There may be a problem with Scott’s plot. The Tea Party/Republican controlled Florida Legislature has the final say-so on the plan and this week the House Select Committee on Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rejected Scott’s proposal by a 10-5 party line vote.
The true tea partiers – who dominate Florida’s legislature and this committee – are even more radical and rabid in their Obama hatred than Scott. They are willing to reject $60 billion just because in their minds it comes from Obama. To put it in people terms, the projections are that somewhere between 1 and 1.3 million Floridians would receive health care coverage under Obamacare.
If someone wants to defend the legislature’s action to date based on conservatism let me quote Scott’s February 20th statement: “While the federal government is committed to paying 100 percent of the cost, I cannot, in good conscience, deny Floridians that need access to health care. We will support a three-year expansion of our Medicaid program under the new health care law, as long as the federal government meets their commitment to pay 100 percent of the cost during the time.” I am anything but a Rick Scott defender; however what he really said is as long as the other guy is buying I’ll take. That sounds pretty conservative to me. The reality is that after three years the federal government will pick up 90% of the tab – still a pretty sweet deal for the states.
I don’t know what is worse; Rick Scott’s greed or his fellow Florida Republicans’ stupidity.
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