The St. Petersburg Times hammers Florida gubernatorial hopeful Rick Scott today in an editorial that describes him as "deceitful" and "heartless." The editors accuse Scott of "shamelessly exploiting the tragedy of a family of a severely disabled young woman" in order to "burnish" his pro-life bona fides.
Here's your background: In 1990, Karla Miller gave birth to a a baby girl, who, because of "complications during labor," was born thirteen weeks premature and "unable to breathe or circulate blood." The parents asked the hospital to not take measures to prolong the suffering infant's life, but the hospital disregarded their wishes.
Upon birth, Sidney had oxygen pumped into her lungs through a tube down her throat, a procedure that can cause complications. Months later she had brain surgery at an age deemed too young for anesthesia. Today Sidney has brain damage, cerebral palsy, seizures and blindness. She requires constant care.
Scott uses this case to proclaim himself a "prolife leader." In referring to Sidney's case he said, "We lost a $43 million lawsuit because we saved the life of a child that the parents didn't want us to." Scott's hospital company had bought Women's Hospital as part of a chain in 1994. As CEO of Columbia/HCA, Scott decided to continue to fight the Millers' lawsuit. Eventually a jury awarded the Millers $43 million to cover Sidney's expenses, but the verdict was overturned on appeal.
Hooray. Rick Scott went to the wall to lose a gigantic lawsuit for the sake of a child who's now demonstrably worse off after the hospital disregarded her parents' wishes. (And now the verdict that would have allowed the parents to care for their child for the rest of her life, has been overturned on appeal, so: Yahtzee!)
Of course, Scott is best known for being the head of Hospital Corporation of America, which had to pay a $1.7 billion fraud settlement after it was found that the company had stolen taxpayer money by fraudulently "upcoding" Medicare billing codes.
The editorial comes at a pretty fortuitous time for Scott's GOP primary opponent, Florida AG Bill McCollum, who is perilously close to running out of money. McCollum is looking more and more reliant on public financing with each passing day. On the other hand, Scott is one of the 2010 campaign season's top self-funders. (Go figure that one of the country's most celebrated fraudsters is also staggeringly wealthy! Welcome to the rest of the days of your lives, America.)
Rick Scott's deceitful, heartless ploy [St. Petersburg Times]