Published Feb. 17, 2011

TWISler Breakdown: Governor Skeletor’s Epic Fail

For today’s lesson, the TWISler had planned to regale you with the pathetic extent of Sarasota’s piss-poor voter turnout numbers in past local elections. But in light of our newly elected Governor Skeletor’s most recent epic fail, we thought it might be more motivational to show you what can result, and is currently resulting, from the act of a few voters having better things to do on election day. While the TWIS always tries to keep it local, we simply could not pass up this golden opportunity to drill into your thick skulls just how monumentally critical it is to get off your ass and rock the vote.

First of all, let’s provide a little overview of who this reptilian creature we’ve just handed our state’s veto pen to really is, and a bit about the hellish brimstone of a rock from whence he hath crawled. Richard Lynn Scott made his first foray into the business world with the purchase of two Kansas City donut shops in college. Obviously concerned about the health and wellbeing of his fellow Americans, he teamed up with two former executives of Republic Health Corporation while still a partner at the largest law firm in Dallas, and with the help of a $5 billion loan from Citicorp, attempted to buy the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) in 1987. The HCA passed, and Scott was very sad that he wasn’t able to take control of the 100-plus hospitals HCA operated so he could, you know, help people.

But his insatiable quest to heal the sick didn’t stop there. The following year he joined forces with a multimillionaire financier to found the Columbia Hospital Corporation, which soon purchased two struggling hospitals in El Paso. The next year they bought two more hospitals, and a few years later they bought eight more, and the year after that they bought 90 more, until finally, after seven long years, Columbia was able to buy HCA. Scott was so happy about the purchase he even changed the name of his company to Columbia/HCA, just to show the world how much he loved owning hospitals so he could, you know, help people.

Columbia/HCA kept healing and healing until they soon became the world’s largest health care provider with more than 340 hospitals, 130 surgery centers, and 550 home health locations, with annual revenues in excess of $23 billion. Of course, being the Mother Theresa figure that Scott is, it was never about the money. But he did use a little of it to partner with an oilman named George W. Bush to buy a baseball team called the Texas Rangers. The two have a lot in common — they both really like baseball, and George’s brother even ran Florida too!

Helping people was going great, until one day a bunch of mean investigators from the FBI, IRS and HHS Department busted into some of Columbia/HCA’s facilities with search warrants and claimed they had committed fraud. It turned out they had. Scott was forced to resign and the board of directors changed the company’s name back to just HCA, which made Scott very sad. Years later, Wikipedia described the company’s fraud as:

“Systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, striking illegal deals with home care agencies, filing false data about use of hospital space, fraudulently billing Medicare and other health programs by inflating the seriousness of diagnoses, giving doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA, filing false cost reports, fraudulently billing Medicare for home health care workers, paying kickbacks in the sale of home health agencies and to doctors to refer patients, and giving doctors “loans” never intending to be repaid, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.”

After all the civil law suits had been resolved, HCA had paid more than $2 billion to settle, the largest fraud settlement in US history by a long shot. Scott moved on and tried to buy many other types of companies, but he just couldn’t get the satisfaction of helping people that he had with health care companies. So in 2001 he co-founded Solantic, which has since built over 30 clinics all over Florida to serve as an alternative to emergency rooms for poor sick folks without health insurance. The company has settled numerous employment discrimination suits arising from Scott’s policy of not hiring elderly or overweight applicants.

In February 2009, Scott founded Conservatives for Patients’ Rights in order to fight Obama’s health care reform legislation with the help of public relations firm Creative Response Concepts. You may remember them from their Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign back in the 2004 presidential election, when they gathered a group of Vietnam vets to smear lies about John Kerry’s war record. None were present on the days when Kerry won his Purple Hearts, but they still managed to steal his victory. I guess Scott needed to come up with some lies about the health care industry, although you’d think he’d have figured out plenty of them by then.

So that, my friends, is Rick Scott — our newly elected Governor of Florida — who beat Alex Sink in the 2010 Florida gubernatorial election by about 50,000 votes — out of 5.3 million cast. The final two poll results released before November 2 had shown Sink leading Scott by three points, but all that matters is who showed up to vote that day. 43.3% of Florida’s registered voters decided in the state’s closest governor’s race since 1876 that Governor Skeletor was the right man for the job. He more than tripled the previous state record for campaign spending, dumping $85 mil —$73 million of it from his own pocket – into the election, and he won by a margin of 1.25%.

Since stepping into office, he has meticulously attempted to dismantle some of the most crucial progress we’ve made in recent years. One of his first smooth moves after taking office was to withdraw Florida’s request for a required review of our new redistricting standards by the U.S. Department of Justice, and to appoint as secretary of state and head of elections a man who had campaigned against the Fair Districts Florida redistricting amendments, which had each received more than 3.1 million votes — a half-million more than he had bought for himself.

Ol’ Skeletor then went on to try to kill the Pill Mill Bill, which would employ a prescription-drug database that tracks the flow of painkiller narcotics, now easily picked up by drug dealers at any of Florida’s abundant “pain” clinics. With 49 of the top-50 oxycodone prescribers residing in the sunshine state, our “Pill Mills” have made Florida the national laughing stock of drug enforcement, so bad that numerous other states have begged us to enact the law because our ease of acquiring drugs is killing their citizens. How could Scott possibly oppose the bill if it doesn’t add a cent to the budget? It’s pretty simple: if our kids aren’t overdosing then he won’t have any customers showing up at his Solantic DIY emergency room clinics scattered throughout the state. Hey, it’s just good business.

But all that came before he even got to propose his brand-spankin’ new budget, which seeks to cut an obscene amount of funding — slashing overall state spending by $4.6 billion while hacking taxes and fees by $1.7 billion, with education bearing most of the burden by way of a $3.3 billion hit. And to top it all off, there was yesterday’s cheerful news that Skeletor has decided to reject our $2.4 billion slice of the stimulus pie, which we had been granted to use for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Since we’d already spent $66 million on engineering for the project, there were about 5,000 Floridians that really had their hopes up for finally getting back to work. But Scott’s a businessman, and he didn’t see an ROI in the numbers, which, by the way, haven’t been released yet, and he promised he would look at before making his decision. Welp, it’s too late now. You’re welcome California!

Take the insatiable greed of an oil executive, combine it with the abhorrent heartlessness of a health insurance executive, and you have Rick Scott — our new governor.

Trust me, people. Every vote counts.

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