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What do Rick Scott and Mitt Romney have in common?

As billionaire Florida Governor Rick Scott prepares to campaign with fellow out-of-touch rich guy Mitt Romney this evening, Floridians should take a close look at what else Scott and Romney have in common: Rick Scott ran a company that paid a record fine for committing Medicare fraud, while Mitt Romney was director of a company that stole millions from Medicare.

Rick Scott’s record is bad for Florida seniors and bad for the middle class.

Background

Rick Scott Resigned As CEO Of Columbia/HCA Less Than Four Months After Federal Agents Went Public With An Investigation Into The Company For Medicare Fraud. According to Politifact ” Scott resigned as chief executive officer in 1997, the year that federal agents went public with an investigation into the company, first seizing records from four El Paso-area hospitals and then expanding across the country. In time, it became apparent that the investigation focused on whether Columbia/HCA bilked Medicare and Medicaid for tests that were not necessary or ordered by physicians, and for attaching false diagnosis codes to patient records to increase reimbursement to the hospitals. Scott resigned as CEO in July, less than four months after the inquiry became public. Company executives said that if Scott had remained CEO, the entire chain could have been in jeopardy. At issue, Scott said, was that he wanted to fight the federal government accusations. The corporate board of the publicly traded company wanted to settle.” [Politifact, 10/31/12]

Columbia/HCA Paid $1.7 Billion In Fines, Pled Guilty To 14 Corporate Felonies. According to Politifact, “In December 2000, the U.S. Justice Department announced what it called the largest government fraud settlement in U.S. history when Columbia/HCA agreed to pay $840 million in criminal fines and civil damages and penalties. Among the revelations from the 2000 settlement, which all apply to when Scott was CEO, were that Columbia overbilled Medicare for unnecessary tests and false diagnosis codes. The government settled a second series of similar claims with Columbia/HCA in 2002 for an additional $881 million. The total fine: $1.7 billion. As part of the 2000 settlement, Columbia/HCA agreed to plead guilty to at least 14 corporate felonies. A corporate felony comes with financial penalties but not jail time, since a corporation can’t be sent to prison. Scott himself was never indicted.” [Politifact, 10/31/12]

Mitt Romney Served On The Board Of Directors Of Damon Corp. According to Politifact, “The story begins in 1989, when Romney was the head of Bain Capital, which specialized in buying troubled companies, turning them around, and then selling them for a profit. That year, Bain invested in Damon Corp., a medical testing company based in Needham, Mass. Bain took the company public in 1991, and Romney served on the company’s board of directors.” [Politifact, 10/31/12]

October 1996: Federal Prosecutors Announced That Damon Agreed To Pay $119 Million In Civil And Criminal Fines After Pleading Guilty To Defrauding Medicare. According to Politifact, “In 1993, Bain orchestrated a sale of the company to Corning Inc., getting a handsome return on its investment and earning Romney himself $473,000, according to The Real Romney. After the sale, Corning closed the main facility in Needham, laying off 115 people. In October 1996, federal prosecutors announced that Damon was agreeing to pay $119 million in both civil and criminal fines after pleading guilty to defrauding Medicare. The company was providing doctors with forms that didn’t make clear what tests included, so doctors were checking off additional tests that weren’t necessary, according to the Globe’s summary of the government’s case. The overbilling went from 1988 through 1993, prosecutors said. ‘This is a case, pure and simple, of corporate greed run amok,’ U.S. Attorney Donald Stern said when the settlement was announced.” [Politifact, 10/31/12]