Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Connecting the Dots on Richard Scott

Politico reported yesterday that former Columbia/Hospital Corporation of America CEO Richard Scott is leading a conservative group to block healthcare reform. The group, called Conservatives for Patients Rights, is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign in opposition to government-run coverage, and that Scott himself is putting $5 million into the effort.

Over at Health Beat, Maggie Mahar gives us more details about Scott's past contributions to the health care system:

"Internal hospital records would later show that hospital executives were paid enormous bonuses, not for reducing infections or lowering mortality rates, but for meeting financial targets such as 'growth in admissions and surgery cases.' In 1995 one-fourth of Columbia’s administrators won bonuses equaling 80 percent of their salaries—or more. When bonuses become that large, some critics charge, they no longer function simply as incentives. They invite fraud. Scott also did his best to avoid needy patients, questioning whether hospitals should throw their doors open to one and all.

"...In July of 1997, the FBI swooped down on HCA hospitals in five states. Within weeks, three executives were indicted on charges of Medicare fraud, and the board had ousted Scott. The investigation revealed that the hospital chain had been bilking Medicare while simultaneously handing over kickbacks and perks to physicians who steered patients to its hospitals. One can only wonder how many of those patients really needed to be hospitalized—and how many were harmed.

"The company did not fight the charges. In 2000, HCA (which by then had expunged “Columbia” from its name) pleaded guilty to no fewer than 14 felonies. Over the next two years, it would pay a total of $1.7 billion in criminal and civil fines."


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