Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh, that feeling when he's gone.

Some of you may have knowledge of Morgan's Raid led by Gen. John Hunt Morgan in 1862. The raid lasted 46 days and covered 1000 miles through Indiana and Ohio. This was during the American Civil War. The raid struck fear in the civilian population and drew tens of thousands of Federal troops away from their regular war duties, to protect the citizenry. There are historical markers all through southern Indiana and Ohio to this day. We were taught this bit of history in our schools in the small town I grew up near. Having knowledge of and reading the papers about Rick Scott, I am reminded of Morgan's Raid.

Rick Scott was born in Illinois, moved to Kansas City and went to high school and junior college there, enlisted in the Navy for 29 months, came back to Kansas City and graduated from law school. He moved to Texas and practiced law with the state's largest firm in Dallas. He and two other people started Columbia Hospital Corporation and with further acquisitions of competitors, the company evolved into the largest health care corporation in the country.

Mr. Scott passed through Louisville when Columbia acquired a subsidiary of Humana. They announced their headquarters would be in Louisville and the city was delighted to have them here. Billboards were put up on all the expressways. The corporation contributed big bucks to the arts and Mr. and Mrs. Scott were invited to all the best parties and galas. There wasn't a week when they were not featured in the social pages.

It wasn't just the old and new society money who embraced the Scotts. The State government gave low and no tax deals to the corporation. The city was told new high paying jobs would come together in Louisville and so the city helped with those nagging occupational taxes. Then before the commuters got tired of the billboards, Mr. Scott and the corporation decamped to Nashville.

The local paper was full of outrage. Letters to the editor were numerous. We were never told what Nashville used to lure them there, but we as a city were not amused.

In the late 90's Columbia/HCA was charged by the Federal government in a huge Medicare fraud case. Mr. Scott was CEO of the corporation. Among the crimes uncovered were doctors being offered financial incentives to bring in patients, falsifying diagnostic codes to increase reimbursements from Medicare and other government programs, and billing the government for unnecessary tests. The case was never brought to court and was settled with a payout of $1.7 billion.

Mr. Scott was never personally charged, but the corporation ousted him. In an application of veneer to hide their crimes, the corporation changed its name to HCA Mr. Scott went on to spend the next decade investing in health care service firms and technology start ups.

Now Mr. Scott has turned to politics in Florida. He is the GOP candidate for governor there. His campaign has been saturating the airwaves in an effort to introduce himself and wash away the dirt on his resume. By Sunday he will have spent $24.9 million of his personal wealth in this.

He is also pushing the legal limit of things to get the public financing laws changed in his favor. He's upset because his opponent, who is not a millionaire, will begin getting public financing when Mr. Scott reaches his spending limit Sunday.

I could write about the injustice of election financing. I won't do that today.

In 2009 Mr. Scott put up the initial funding for Conservatives for Patients' Rights. The organization sounds like it would be working to help individual patients get help. The true purpose is to reduce the growth of Medicare and other government programs.

The irony just does not stop!

Mr. Scott and his companies get all the tax breaks they can scare the state out of, and then abandon Kentucky to zip down to Tennessee, which also abates taxes for them. Then through guile and clever machinations with cunning schemes that amount to out and out theft, they cheat the Federal government of funds that should have been used to help more people.

I know how we feel here in Louisville after experiencing the acquaintance of Rick Scott. I'd advise Florida to take note. I suspect if he's elected governor there, they will have a similar feeling when he leaves.