Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scott's Health Care Reform is About Profit

"I can't make any sense of that," said Ron Hytoff, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital.

Hytoff made this comment to the Tampa Bay Times. Hytoff was asked about the hospital rating system proposed by Gov. Rick Scott. The "rate bands" would benefit hospitals that mostly cover patients who can pay for their health care. These are usually for-profit hospitals such as Scott's former company Hospital Corporation of America. The for-profit hospitals that make a profit would receive more Medicaid funding. Hospitals that treat the uninsured with see a decrease in Medicaid funds.

Scott is the former CEO of Columbia/HCA. A Justice Department investigation found that Scott behaved highly unethically.

However, federal investigators found Scott took part in business practices at Columbia/HCA that were later found illegal -- specifically, that Scott and other executives offered financial incentives to doctors in exchange for referrals, in violation of federal law, according to lawsuits the Justice Department filed against the company in 2001.

The doctor payments were among 10 different kinds of fraud identified by the Justice Department in its 10-year probe of the company, records show. Three years after Scott left Columbia/HCA, the company admitted wrongdoing, pleading guilty to 14 felonies -- the most committed during Scott's tenure -- in addition to paying two sets of fines totaling $1.7 billion.

Scott left because the board of Columbia/HCA forced him to resign. Columbia/HCA admitted to falsely billing Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE.

Scott likes to attack government health care. Scott has no problem receiving tax dollars when he CEO of Columbia/HCA. As Florida's multi-millionaire governor, Scott only pays only $30.00-a-month for government health care. That is amazing hypocrisy for a man who burst on the national political scene railing against government health care.

Scott's rating system would punish hospitals that treat the uninsured. Scott's answer is less funding for emergency room visits. Sick people are still going to go to the emergency room. What Scott's policy proposal would do is help financially sink health care centers like Tampa General Hospital. The worst case scenario is only the for-profit hospitals would remain. Scott's idea of health care reform is forcing all patients to go to a few for-profit institutions. Of course, Scott has no interest in regulating health care costs of these for-profit hospitals. Scott will tell Floridians that less hospitals employing health care workers is creating jobs.

Mr. Hytoff may not be able to make any sense out of Scott's rate band system awarding profitable hospitals more tax dollars. To me it makes perfect sense to me. Fortunately, Scott's rating system is too radical for the conservative Florida legislature.

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