Political Correction

CPR Infomercial Conveniently Omits Rick Scott's History Of Fraud And Deceit

May 31, 2009 3:33 pm ET

On May 31, 2009, Conservatives for Patients Rights bought thirty minutes of Beltway airtime after NBC's Meet the Press in order to present an infomercial full of spin, half-truths, and fear mongering.

The Infomercial Doesn't Paint The Entire Picture Of Scott's Past

Host and narrator Gene Randall presents Rick Scott as the glorious leader of the Columbia/HCA hospital system:

"Rick Scott, one of America's most successful health care entrepreneurs and a strong advocate for patients' rights...Scott was the founder of Columbia Hospital Corporation and later Columbia/HCA. Under his leadership, almost a third of America's top hospitals were Columbia hospitals.  94 percent of Columbia's patients rated their care either satisfactory or very satisfactory.  By constantly upgrading information systems and equipment, Columbia hospitals won the highest accreditation four times more often than the national average for all hospitals. And Columbia had the lowest cost per patient of any category of hospital."

However, Randall fails to mention that those statistics were achieved at great cost to the communities where Scott's hospitals were located, as well as the country as a whole.

Scott's Columbia/HCA Pled Guilty To Defrauding Medicare And Paid A $1.7 Billion Fine

Columbia/HCA Investigated For Medicare Fraud.  According to the New York Times: "Officials at a number of Federal agencies began investigating whether Columbia hospitals engaged in practices such as fraudulently overstating their expenses to increase their compensation from Medicare, and regularly conducting unnecessary blood tests. Last week, law enforcement agents raided Columbia offices and hospitals in seven states, seizing documents related to business practices." [New York Times, 7/26/97]

Evidence Collected In Columbia/HCA Investigation Included Documents "Stamped With Warnings That They Should Not Be Disclosed To Medicare Auditors."  According to the New York Times: "The government began a civil investigation and obtained critical evidence: second sets of cost reports and worksheets maintained at HCA hospitals that contained significantly lower expenses than in reports submitted to the government. Some of those documents were stamped with warnings that they should not be disclosed to Medicare auditors." [New York Times, 12/18/02]

Columbia/HCA "Hospitals Were Knowingly Inflating The Numbers Reported To The Government." The New York Times reported: "In particular, these people said, investigators are examining accusations of significant differences between the cost reports submitted by certain Columbia hospitals to the Government and separate reports -- known as reserve cost reports -- that were kept at hospitals. Investigators were said to believe that these second reports, along with work sheets prepared by analysts working with the company, provided evidence that at least some hospitals were knowingly inflating the numbers reported to the Government in the cost report to improperly raise total compensation." [New York Times, 7/17/97, emphasis added]

Columbia/HCA Marked Employee Social Function Expenses As Patient Care Costs In Reports.  According to the New York Times: "A 1993 report by the General Accounting Office found that Hospital Corporation of America -- the company that accounts for the 'HCA' in Columbia's name -- improperly included expenses for employee picnics, Christmas gifts and food for nonemployees at social functions as expenditures related to patient care in the cost report for its headquarters." [New York Times, 7/17/97]

Columbia/HCA Healthcare Pled Guilty To Fraud Charges Following Seven-Year And Multi-State Investigation.  According to Forbes.com: "Yesterday, the nation's largest hospital chain, known until recently as Columbia/HCA Healthcare, pleaded guilty to a variety of fraud charges. It admitted to bilking various government programs and agreed to pay a total of $840 million in fines and penalties. The fraud settlement is the largest in U.S. history, breaking the old record held by Drexel Burnham...The guilty plea follows a seven-year federal investigation that resulted in charges being filed in five different federal courts in Florida, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee, where HCA is headquartered. The fraud revealed by that investigation ran deep within HCA's way of doing business." [Forbes.com, 12/15/00, emphasis added]

Columbia/HCA Admitted To Several Serious Fraudulent Activities:

Columbia/HCA Paid "More Than $1.7 Billion In Civil And Criminal Penalties."  The New York Times reported that a settlement was reached in the HCA fraud investigation: "Combined with previous settlements HCA has negotiated with the government involving fraud accusations -- including its agreement in 2000 to plead guilty to 14 felonies -- the company will be paying a total of more than $1.7 billion in civil and criminal penalties, by far the largest amount ever secured by federal prosecutors in a health care fraud case." [New York Times, 12/18/02, emphasis added]

Scott Was Forced To Leave His Post, But Was Given Millions Of Dollars As A Parting Gift

Scott Departed Columbia/HCA Amid "A Rash Of Civil And Criminal Fraud Inquiries."  Modern Healthcare reported:  "Richard Scott left HCA in July 1997 as a rash of civil and criminal fraud inquiries into what was then known as Columbia-HCA Healthcare Corp. became public. Scott resigned less than two weeks after investigators raided 18 Columbia-HCA hospitals in six states. The HHS' inspector general's office issued the company three subpoenas and five of its employees received grand jury subpoenas. Ultimately, HCA brokered two massive settlements in 2000 and 2002 worth a combined $1.74 billion to wrap up fraud charges." [Modern Healthcare, 7/11/05]

Scott's Golden Parachute Included Nearly $10 Million In Severance And $300 Million In Stock Options

Scott's Severance Included A Nearly $10 Million Payment And A Five-Year Consulting Contract That Paid $950,000 Per Year.  According to the New York Times: "The Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corporation said yesterday that it had agreed to pay its former chairman and chief executive nearly $10 million when he was forced out in July in the wake of an unfolding criminal investigation of the company. The agreement with the executive, Richard L. Scott, provided for a one-time payment of $5.13 million, as well as a five-year annual consulting fee of $950,000, for a total of $9.88 million, according to a copy of a severance agreement included in the company's quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission." [New York Times, 11/14/97]

Scott's Severance Package Included $300 Million In Stocks.  According to the Florida Times-Union, Richard L. Scott left Columbia/HCA "with a $10 million severance package and 10 million shares of stock valued at more than $300 million." [Florida Times-Union, 6/21/06]

Scott's Columbia/HCA "Squeezed Blood" From Community Hospitals

While At Columbia/HCA, Richard L. Scott Had A Reputation For Dismissing The Needs Of The Community. NurseWeek.com reported: "'Rick Scott created a public relations nightmare for himself. He created an image, which may or may not be fair, of a grand buccaneer,' said Paul Torrens, MD, MPH, professor of health services management at the UCLA School of Public Health. 'His arrogance and disdain for concern for communities, which had been a part of health care, are appalling.'" [NurseWeek.com, 9/10/97, emphasis added]

"Scott Has No Qualms About Closing Hospitals If They Compete With Facilities His Company Owns."  In an article discussing the Columbia/HCA merger and the possible effects upon Texas medical facilities, the Austin Business Journal reported: "Media reports from across the nation have noted Scott has no qualms about closing hospitals if they compete with facilities his company owns or if the facilities are not performing up to par." [Austin Business Journal, 10/18/93]

Under Scott, Columbia/HCA "Squeezed Blood From" Each Hospital It Purchased.  According to Forbes: "Under former Chief Executive Richard Scott, [Columbia/HCA] bought hospitals by the bucketful and promised to squeeze blood from each one." [Forbes, 12/15/00]

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