Meet Richard L. Scott, conservative sugar daddy, ethical pariah, and would-be destroyer of health care reform. He’s the guy the right wing holds at a distance — and for good reason — even as they gladly take his money:
Once lauded for building Columbia/HCA into the largest health care company in the world, Mr. Scott was ousted by his own board of directors in 1997 amid the nation’s biggest health care fraud scandal. The company’s guilty plea and payment of $1.7 billion to settle charges including the overbilling of state and federal health programs was taken as a repudiation of Mr. Scott’s relentless bottom-line approach.
“He hopes people don’t Google his name,” said John E. Hartwig, a former deputy inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, one of various state and federal agencies that investigated Columbia/HCA when Mr. Scott was its chief executive.
The Nation’s Christopher Hayes is somewhat more blunt about what Scott — known as the Gordon Gekko of the health-care world — is and does:
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.
Indeed, if there’s one thing that’s most galling about Scott’s antigovernment jihad–and most emblematic–it’s that for all his John Galt bluster, he made his fortune (which, yes, he still has) in no small part thanks to steady contract fees from the Great Society’s entitlement programs.
Congressman Pete Stark, a veteran of the last bruising round of fighting over healthcare reform, remembers Scott all too well. Stark recently sent his colleagues a letter hoping to refresh their memories. Calling Scott a "swindler," the letter said, "If he is the conservative spokesperson against healthcare reform, there is no debate."
Something to keep in mind when the ads and congresscritters bought with his money start hitting the airwaves.