Scott, as Fla. Governor Would Appoint Investigator of Own Company’s Alleged Fraud
November 1, 2010
(ChattahBox Political News)— Now, this is something you don’t see everyday. Rick Scott, the Republican nominee for governor of Florida, who has a sleazy history of running the hospital chain Columbia/HCA that was forced to plead guilty to healthcare fraud, paying $1.7 billion in fines, would, if elected governor, be awarded the power to appoint the person tasked with investigating additional allegations of fraud lodged against a chain of clinics also run by Scott. In any other election cycle, Scott’s questionable business ethics, or complete lack thereof, would have immediately rendered him unsuitable for office, but in this toxic political climate, a former head of a healthcare company found guilty of unprecedented fraud, is in a dead heat with his Democratic opponent Alex Sink. And if he’s elected, he would have the power to sway the results of a possible state fraud investigation into his own business practices.
The current fraud allegations of improper Medicare billing and other misconduct were made against Scott’s Solantic health care clinics. The health care tycoon dismisses the fraud allegations, as the work of a disgruntled ex-employee.
It’s not clear there is an ongoing investigation into the charges, but Scott, as governor would appoint the head of the state health department who would investigate the complaints against Solantic. Scott’s appointment of the top state health department official would certainly raise conflict of interest issues.
The Florida Independent writes:
“After the information became public, it was passed to various state and federal health care agencies, including the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which handles Medicare investigations. None of the agencies will comment on whether they initiated investigations or what the status of those investigations might be.”
When asked by the Naples Daily News how Scott would deal with an investigation into Solantic, if elected, he responded “I’d recuse myself from any involvement.”
But Scott admitted he would appoint the investigating official. “I’m going to appoint the head of the position, but I’m not going to be involved in any decisions,” said Scott.
The Florida governor’s race is one of the closest in the country. Although Sink has a slim one point lead in some polls, the race is seen as a tossup.