Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Rick Scott's 7 Year Plan

Rick Scott sent out a campaign mailer detailing his plan to balance the budget, reduce spending and create 700,000 jobs in 7 years. Scott plans to this by lowering taxes, turning downing stimulus money and keeping spending levels down to 2004 levels. There are several problems with Scott's plan. The state budget has been cut to the bone and is still in a deficit. Scott cannot get the budget balanced and cut taxes. Inflation has made it impossible to keep Florida's budget at 2004 levels. But Scott's campaign mailer has pretty pictures to make up for the fact he doesn't explain how he will pay to run the state.

Scott doesn't explain how Florida would save $77 million to drug test people filing unemployment claims. Doesn't the money spent drug testing every person on unemployment outweigh any savings made from taking someone testing positive of drugs off unemployment? Where did Scott come up with $77 million? Did economic advisor Donna Arduin pull out her Laffer Curve to come to that number? A wild claim by Scott is he can reduce operational cost of the state government by $500 million. A have no explanation for how Scott will do this since he doesn't provide one.

Scott's is most known for his former company Columbia/HCA being involved in the largest Medicare fraud case in United States history. From a Justice Department press release:

HCA Inc. (formerly known as Columbia/HCA and HCA - The Healthcare Company) has agreed to pay the United States $631 million in civil penalties and damages arising from false claims the government alleged it submitted to Medicare and other federal health programs, the Justice Department announced today.

This settlement marks the conclusion of the most comprehensive health care fraud investigation ever undertaken by the Justice Department, working with the Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense, the Office of Personnel Management and the states. The settlement announced today resolves HCA's civil liability for false claims resulting from a variety of allegedly unlawful practices, including cost report fraud and the payment of kickbacks to physicians.

Previously, on December 14, 2000, HCA subsidiaries pled guilty to substantial criminal conduct and paid more than $840 million in criminal fines, civil restitution and penalties. Combined with today's separate administrative settlement with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), under which HCA will pay an additional $250 million to resolve overpayment claims arising from certain of its cost reporting practices, the government will have recovered $1.7 billion from HCA, by far the largest recovery ever reached by the government in a health care fraud investigation.

Scott's idea of reforming Medicaid would result in medical costs increasing.

Reforming health care for Medicaid resipients (through a waiver), and state employees to consumer directed care will lower the costof health care, increase choice of health plans, and save taxpayers $1.8 billion.

What Scott doesn't make clear is he talking about putting poor people on private insurance plans or not having Medicaid cover the cost of medical procedures. Never options make much sense. Scott's claim that Medicaid is more expensive than private health care coverage is factually untrue. The Kaiser Institute has the numbers.

Government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, account for a significant share of health care spending, but they have increased at a slower rate than private insurance. Medicare per capita spending has grown at a slightly lower rate, on average, than private health insurance spending, at about 6.8 vs. 7.1% annually respectively between 1998 and 2008. Medicaid expenditures, similarly, have grown at slower rate than private spending, though enrollment in the program has increased during the current economic recession, which may result in increased Medicaid spending figures soon.

Unemployment and the recession has forced more people on Medicaid rolls. The fact is Medicaid is cheaper per person than private health insurance. Where is Scott going to get the money to put poor people on private insurance plans during an economic downtown? Taking people off of Medicaid and letting them fend for themselves would likely result in lawsuits. Scott's $1.8 billion in savings is a fantasy.

Update: the Bill McCollum campaign sent out a press release saying that Rick Scott's plan was stolen from Bill McCollum. The McCollum camp then point out how much the plan sucks. The stupidity of the press release leaves me speechless.

“Today, Rick Scott told Florida voters he wanted to be Florida’s Chief Economic Development Officer – blatantly and unapologetically plagiarizing Bill McCollum’s comments from an April 15 announcement made alongside Steve Forbes. Apparently Rick Scott thinks spending more than $25 million on misleading TV ads can gloss over a detail-free, partially plagiarized announcement masquerading as an original economic plan.

“Bill McCollum has been running on a comprehensive job creation and economic agenda for months. He’s offered solutions to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, grow our economy, improve the state’s transportation network, provide more choice and affordability in our health care system, provide water solutions for our future growth needs and create a world education system for Florida’s students.

“Rick Scott couldn’t even be bothered to put out one solid policy proposal in advance of Floridians beginning to vote for the state’s highest office by absentee ballot. Now he has put out a plan, where, when it doesn’t copy Bill McCollum’s, the ideas are unrealistic and misguided at best. Moreover, Rick Scott has now flip-flopped on property taxes."

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