Florida GOP Gov. Candidate Surges Despite Questions About Involvement In Medicare Fraud Case

Opponents of Florida GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott are questioning Scott's involvement in a health care fraud case when he was the CEO for Columbia/HCA hospital. So Politifact Florida/The Miami Herald review his role: "Now about Scott's departure (as CEO) in 1997. That year, federal agents went public with an investigation into the company, first seizing records from four El Paso-area hospitals and then expanding across the country. In time it became apparent that the investigation focused on whether Columbia/HCA bilked Medicare and Medicaid. Scott resigned as CEO in July 1997, less than four months after the inquiry became public and before the depth of the investigation became clear. Company executives said that had Scott remained CEO, the entire chain could have been in jeopardy." The company eventually pleaded guilty to fraud charges as part of a settlement. Four Columbia/HCA executives were charged with defrauding Medicare and Medicaid, although only two were convicted and those convictions were later overturned on appeal. Scott was not questioned and was never indicted.  "Scott was in charge, so he bears some responsibility and has said so. But there has yet to come to light any detail of how much he knew, and when he knew it" (Sharockman, 6/11).

In the meantime, a new Quinnipiac poll has Scott, who also led an anti-health reform bill campaign, leading in the GOP primary race, The Washington Post Right Now blog reports. "Scott leads Attorney General Bill McCollum by 13 points, 44-31, in the party primary. In the general election, Scott leads [Democratic candidate Alex] Sink 42-32, cruising in every part of Florida except the Miami area" (Weigel, 6/10).

Health News Florida: "Scott and McCollum — along with Republican legislators — have banked on opposition to the federal health law as they have sought the GOP nomination for governor. Even before he entered the governor's race, Scott ran television ads opposing the efforts by President Obama and congressional Democrats to pass the law, which includes requiring almost all Americans to eventually have health insurance. McCollum, meanwhile, has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law" (Saunders, 6/10).

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