KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Former Columbia/HCA CEO Rick Scott Spends Millions On Florida Governor Campaign

News outlets report on the campaign of multimillionaire Rick Scott, the former CEO of the Columbia/HCA health care company, who is running in the Republican gubernatorial primary in Florida.

"Scott is on pace to spend $30 million by the Aug. 24 primary, ensuring at the very least that [opponent Bill] McCollum will come out of the primary strapped for money and bruised," the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald reports. Scott "was ousted" from Columbia/HCA "amid a federal investigation that resulted in the company paying a record $1.7 billion in fines as part of a settlement over fraudulent healthcare billing. He has acknowledged he made mistakes and learned from them, but says he personally knew of no wrongdoing. Palm Beach County Republican Chairman Sid Dinerstein, a McCollum supporter, predicted Scott ultimately can't overcome the taint of Medicare fraud. 'This is Florida -- we're the Medicare state,' Dinerstein said. 'I can tell you one thing with absolute certainty: Rick Scott will never be governor of Florida. If he wins the primary, Alex Sink will be the next governor.' ... A shadowy political group tied to McCollum's campaign, Alliance for America's Future, has spent more than $900,000 attacking Scott's Columbia/HCA tenure" (Smith, 5/31).

Sun Sentinel: "Scott, 57, is clearly trying to tap into the national mood, running as a conservative outsider and businessman. In his first TV ad, Scott said: 'I'll give you fair warning: I'm not a politician.' So far, it seems to be working. A Mason-Dixon poll in May had 24 percent of Republican voters backing Scott, just 14 points behind McCollum - an almost overnight jump. And another poll released last week had Scott running neck-and-neck with Democratic candidate Alex Sink in a hypothetical November contest" (Hafenbrack, 5/31).

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