Political Correction

Rick Scott's Never Ending Legal Headaches

August 11, 2010 11:37 am ET - by Melinda Warner

Political Correction has documented the professional history of Rick Scott — head of Conservatives for Patients Rights, founder of Solantic clinics, and disgraced former head of Columbia/HCA.

The son of hardworking Midwesterners, Scott joined the Navy before partnering with a George W. Bush crony to buy a couple of failing hospitals.  Ten years later, Scott had made Columbia/HCA the biggest hospital chain in the world — and paid what was then the biggest fraud penalty in history.

Rick Scott

Columbia/HCA pled guilty to 14 felony counts.  Federal investigators found that Medicare had been charged for services not provided to patients, Christmas parties had been logged as patient care, and even found documents "stamped with warnings that they should not be disclosed to Medicare auditors." 

The company paid $1.7 billion in fines and, while he was never individually charged, Scott was forced out.  But before Scott embarked on his anti-health care reform mission with the group Conservatives for Patients' Rights, and before he used his experience at Columbia/HCA to try and prove he was a good businessman on the campaign trail, Scott started the Florida health care clinic chain Solantic.

Known for quick service and convenient locations (many in Wal-Marts), Solantic is the brainchild of a man who is "a retail nut - not a health-care wonk."

Like Columbia/HCA, however, Solantic is causing Scott some headaches.  Several media outlets are reporting that Solantic's business license was obtained by illegally using a physician's name on legal paperwork.

From the Miami Herald:

A Tallahassee trial lawyer has filed a lawsuit to obtain a Rick Scott video deposition in a case against a chain of clinics founded by the Republican frontrunner for Florida governor.

Scott's campaign called attorney Steven R. Andrews" lawsuit "bogus," "sleazy" and linked to rival Republican, Attorney General Bill McCollum.

In the suit filed late Monday, Andrews suggested that Scott and the clinic, Solantic, could be considered "a public hazard" after the clinic was accused in a recent lawsuit of using a doctor's license unlawfully when the clinic submitted paperwork to the state.

The licensing issue was cleared up and the state's Agency for Health Care Administration has no current or former investigations into Solantic.

Still, Andrews' lawsuit draws a parallel between that minor incident and Scott's leadership of Columbia/HCA hospital chain, which ultimately paid a $1.7 billion Medicare fraud fine. Andrews said he's also in possession of information from a former Solantic doctor and "whistle blower" who alleges the clinic engaged in potentially fraudulent billing practices.

While FloridaToday.com reported:

[Scott spokeswoman Jen Baker] said "this is the ultimate act of desperation by career politician Bill McCollum to prop up his dying campaign."

"Any liberal media outlet that prints these unfounded allegations, knowing that they have come straight from the Bill McCollum campaign, is a knowing accomplice to the sleaziest of campaign dirty tricks..."

Ironically, the conservative website BigGovernment.com not only printed the "unfounded allegations" but also embedded the actual legal documents.  As summed up by BigGovernment.com blogger "Capitol Confidential":

The lawsuit, filed by Florida attorney Steve Andrews, contends that in March 2004, a company owned and directed by Rick Scott, Solantic LLC applied for a Florida Medical Care License for six clinics.  The application listed Dr. Mark Glencross as the "Medical Director" for each of the clinics. Dr. Glencross, who had been an employee at Solantic, claimed he had never been asked nor given consent for his name to be included on the application.  And he was never the Medical Director for the clinics.  Under Florida law, it is a felony of the third degree to file false or misleading information on facility licensure applications. Glencross filed a lawsuit against Solantic in 2008 alleging fraud.  Although it is uncommon for top executives to be questioned in cases such as this, Rick Scott was personally deposed on April 6, 2010 - six days before announcing his Gubernatorial bid.  Almost immediately after the deposition, Solantic settled the lawsuit with Glencross for an undisclosed sum.  As part of the agreement, the videotaped deposition of Scott was not filed with the Duval County Clerk's office. The video is currently in the custody of Collier Court Reporting.  According to a letter from Collier to Mr. Andrews, they are unable to release the video without the consent of both parties.  Mr. Andrews states that Dr. Glencross' attorneys have consented, but lawyers for Rick Scott are blocking the release and attempting to bury the deposition.

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