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Republican Sen. Rick Scott claims Medicare fraud trial was "political persecution"

Scott has previously taken “full responsibility” for wrongdoing at his health care company.

By Jesse Valentine - May 21, 2024
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Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., stifles a cough while other senate Republicans, speaks to members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, about the impact of proposed tax incresases on the middle class on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)

In 2002, a healthcare company owned by future Florida Sen. Rick Scott was fined $1.7 billion for committing Medicare fraud. A quarter century later, Scott is suddenly claiming, without proof, that his company was the victim of a left-wing conspiracy.

Scott was one of several Republicans to flock to New York City in recent weeks to support former President Donald Trump in his criminal hush money trial. Speaking to reporters outside the courthouse, Scott compared Trump’s legal travails to his own.

“I’ve had experience with this,” Scott said, referring to Trump’s trial. “Back in the 90’s I was the lead opponent to Hillarycare, Hillary Clinton’s health care. After it was defeated, she used the Justice Department to go after me and my company. This can’t continue. What’s happening to this president is wrong.” 

Scott is referring to HCA/Columbia, a nationwide hospital chain where he served as CEO from 1992 to 1997. Under Scott’s leadership, HCA/Columbia had a widespread practice of falsifying records to claim unearned Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements. Scott was forced to resign when the fraud was exposed. 

HCA/Columbia was ultimately forced to pay two fines of $840 million and $881 million. At the time, it was the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history.

There is zero evidence that Clinton had any involvement. 

Scott has not previously claimed this episode was a conspiracy. 

Scott was Florida’s governor from 2011 to 2019. When he was seeking a second term in 2014, Scott told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he takes “full responsibility” for the HCA/Columbia fraud and expressed remorse about how the company was run.

“I could have hired more auditors,” Scott said. “That’s what I said in 2010, and I wish I had done it.”

Trump and his acolytes have repeatedly claimed that the 88 felony charges against the former President are a part of a conspiracy spearheaded by the Biden administration and a weaponized Justice Department. Scott appears to be retrofitting that argument onto his own scandal.

Scott has been an enemy to Medicare and Medicaid in his political career. As governor, Scott opposed the Medicaid expansion made available under the Obamacare law. As senator, he sponsored the “Rescue America” plan, which would have required all federal programs to be reauthorized by Congress every five years, including Medicare and Social Security.

Scott is running for reelection in November. His Democratic opponents include former House Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Alan Grayson. A primary is scheduled for Aug. 20.

A Scott spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions for this story.


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