President Donald Trump announced last week that Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) would be among the senators responsible for crafting the new Republican healthcare plan.
Based on Scott’s history as a Florida Governor who denied Medicaid expansion and as a CEO of a company that committed one of the country's largest Medicare fraud cases, his appointment to this important position should be very concerning to those who rely on these important programs.
After Trump announced to the world that the Republican Party would soon become “the party of healthcare,” he was quickly reprimanded by the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for discussing an issue Republicans are weak on.
McConnell responded to Trump’s off-the-cuff healthcare remarks by saying, “I made it clear to him that we were not going to be doing that in the Senate,” in reference to implementing healthcare legislation.
The last Republican healthcare plan that was proposed had an approval rating of 17 percent in June of 2017, according to NPR. In response, Republican politicians suffered a large amount of backlash from citizens who under the plan would have lost their coverage.
Republicans should be skeptical about running on the issue of healthcare because of the historic backlash that took place after the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act. A health-care plan headed by Scott is unlikely to be any more popular than their previous proposal.
In an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation, Scott highlighted the importance of protecting patients with pre-existing conditions as well as well as allowing “individuals to stay on their parent’s plan.” These provisions are currently protected under the Affordable Care Act. Beyond that, Scott was hesitant to give details about any specifics on his future healthcare legislation.
Scott has a unique history of implementing policies that prioritize the bottom line of insurance companies and other private institutions.
The Scott administration sided with the Florida House of representatives to deny the Medicaid expansion in 2015 that was meant to be a part of the Affordable Care Act. By simply accepting the desperately needed funding from the federal government, Scott and the Florida House could have given 800,000 lower-income Floridians a chance at healthcare coverage, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
By denying this opportunity to so many, he forced lower-income individuals to pay for their necessary medical procedures out of pocket or invest in costly private insurance plans.
Prior to Scott’s time as governor, he served as the CEO of Columbia/HCA, a large hospital network. During his time as CEO, the company was fined $1.7 billion by the Department of Justice for defrauding Medicare.
Scott was not convicted of any crime but resigned from his position as a result of the scandal. It is important to recognize that while the illegal actions his company took not only defrauded the government but also stole from American people who rely on those Medicare programs.
Rick Scott’s scandals involving Medicare fraud and his questionable decision concerning Medicaid should raise red flags for any Floridian concerned about the longevity of these programs. Scott’s crucial role in the development of this legislation is enough to question if the plan is going to be any better than what the Republicans have previously proposed.
Jared Sellick is a junior majoring in political science.