Cripple The Opposition Now
by Deacon Blues
Why are we not surprised to find out that the latest far right huckster to emerge from the conservative swamp to oppose Obama's health care reform aspirations is Richard L. Scott, a bottom-line screw the government cretin who committed fraud against Medicare and Medicaid when he ran HCA in the 1990's. And he's using the same liars who ran the Swift Boat smear campaign as his PR people.
Mr. Scott’s emergence this spring as the most visible conservative opponent to Mr. Obama’s not-fully-defined health care effort has former friends and foes alike doing double takes, given Mr. Scott’s history.
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.
Liberal groups planning to defend the administration’s health care plan, whatever form it takes, are seizing on Mr. Scott’s background through Web videos, fact sheets, blog postings and unflattering additions to his Wikipedia entry, which until recently did not mention his ouster from Columbia.
“He’s a great symbol from our point of view,” said Richard J. Kirsch, the national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now. “We cannot have a better first person to attack health care reform than someone who ran a company that ripped off the government of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Progressives need to frame this argument as a battle between an administration that wants to help Main Street get health care coverage, and conservative fraudsters who only have a use for government health care when they can rip it off. By destroying Scott hard and early now, Democrats can call into question the motives of anyone who follows Scott.