Sunday, May 31, 2009

So Who Opposses Health Care Refrom These Days?

The news has recently contained several stories which note that many prior opponents of health care reform are now "working together" in common purpose to help bring needed change. At the same time, we are now starting to see anti-reform television advertisements that warn against "any form of government-run health care". The most widely available ads come from an organization that is calling itself "Conservatives for Patients' Rights ". If you believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy, you might also think that a group of citizens spontaneously got together to educate the the reat of us, but the reality turns out to be far different! Conservatives for Patient's Rights is bankrolled and founded by a guy with a past named Rick Scott, best known for heading a company that paid the the largest health care fraud settlement in US history. Scott was a healthcare executive who grew Columbia Hospital Corp. from two El Paso hospitals in 1988 into the nation's largest investor-owned hospital chain and the world's largest healthcare company.

Columbia later merged with HCA, and Scott was forced out in 1997. Subsequently, a government investigation into HCA resulted in HCA paying $1.7 billion dollars in civil and criminal charges to settle the largest health care fraud settlement in US history, but Scott was not charged individually. He now owns a controlling interest in Discovery Health, and is the Chair of a chain of an urgent care center chain in Florida known as Solantic Corp.

As you watch the adds bankrolled by Scott and his Conservatives for Patient's Rights, you will notice broad statements that really have nothing to say about what is being proposed now for the US. Instead, he strives to create fear of change and rails against the "nanny state" "taking choice out of health care" and other vague notions, while quoting folks from Canada or the UK about problems they perceive in their countries' systems. You would never know to watch these ads that the proposals by the current administration adhere to the 4 pillars of reform that Mr. Scott advocates, which include choice, competition, accountability and responsibility . He forgot to mention equity, effectiveness, affordability and universality, however.

Take care as you watch these ads! Ask who paid for them, where they come from and what the sponsors have to gain by blocking meaningful reform. As President G.W. Bush once tried to say, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!"

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