Monday, January 27, 2014

Another Major Medicaid Scandal for Rick Scott

#94 of My Stupid State

Crossposted on DKos

Rick Scott's appointed a new finance chairman for his campaign last week: Miguel Fernandez. Congrats, Mike!

And Mike is feeling froggy: He just wrote a $1 million check to Scott's re-election committee. And yes, that's a preposterous amount from one person:

Before Fernandez, an individual had never given a check of $1 million or more to a candidate-aligned committee.

Now, who the hell donates that much money and doesn't expect something in return?

Well, as it turns out, not Mike. Mr. Fernandez obviously expected something-and boy did he get a freaking FANTASTIC deal for his "donation". From the same article:

Two companies partly owned by the finance chairman of Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign [Miguel Fernandez] have won contracts worth potentially billions to serve Medicaid patients in regions across the state.

BOOM goes the dynamite! Make it rain!

And it gets worse...

First, a little background:

The agency that awards these contracts is the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, or the AHCA. The article doesn't make clear what the AHCA is or who runs it. The agency manages the state Medicaid program and regulates our state hospitals. The head is appointed by the governor. In March 2011, Rick Scott picked a lackey for this spot named Elizabeth Dudek.

Dudek is a vocal supporter of Rick Scott. She features him on the ACA home page, which no other non-executive agency does. Last year, when Scott came under fire for making up outrageous estimates for Medicaid expansion, (deemed false by Politifact), Dudek pretty much said "F__ my reputation" and supported his bogus numbers with no basis whatsoever.

Under her, patient complaints have grown as hospitals have been allowed to gouge and aggressively bill. (By the way, remember HCA? That was Rick Scott's company involved in the $1.7 billion Medicare fraud where he took the Fifth 75 times. Coincidentally, HCA is now raking in record profits due to turning away patients, aggressive billing, and cutting staff to dysfunctional levels. Well-played.)

But that's not the worst of it.

Florida moved Medicaid into so-called “managed care,” which carves up the state into 11 regions where private insurers can compete to serve Medicaid patients in those districts.

The article mentions this, but fails to point out this was done under Rick Scott, nor does it mention that the idea was the brain-child of Mr. Fernandez to begin with. In fact, Rick Scott came under fire for taking a $125,000 campaign donation last year from the same Mike Fernandez soon after Rick Scott overhauled Medicaid into these private districts.

Rick Scott wouldn't talk about it, of course:

Since this happened all the way last year, our pathetic media forgot about it.

Fast forward one year: one of Mike's companies that he just threw together, Better Health, won THREE contracts from Dudek's AHCA potentially worth billions allowing it to serve three of the larger districts: the Panhandle, Central Florida and South Florida. Another company he owns won the right to service HIV and Aids Medicaid patients in 10 out of the 11 districts.

Again, Congratulations Mike!

All of this would be bad enough, but this being Florida, it gets worse.

As the article mentions, Better Health, Inc. is a PSN (Provider Service Network), which means it has to be a majority-owned by a health-care provider. Tell me how shady this sounds to you: Fernandez owns 49 percent of this company, and some Coral Gables doctor owns 51 percent!

These shady companies are nothing new under Rick Scott's regime. They are primarily nothing more than conduits for campaign cash for GOP candidates and campaigns. Now, I can't say for certain that Better Health, Inc. is one of these companies, but their "official" website doesn't fill me with much confidence. Putting aside that it was clearly thrown up in an afternoon, (and from the looks of it--back in 1995), look at the company information under "About Us" and "Our Senior Management Team". See what I mean? As far as I can tell, Fernandez and the doctor are the only employees.

You would think one of our news teams would want to look into this. But as it so happens, only Jacksonville's paper even bothered to cover this story and they only picked up the headline of Scott's newly appointed finance director donating a million and getting a windfall in return. Delving into Mike Fernandez' connections to the new law, details about his shady company, and how the hell it beat out other qualified applicants to get picked---well, you won't find that anywhere.

A competent Attorney General would investigate this. But we have PamBo. A functioning legislature would demand answers. Ours legalized bribery so don't expect much there either.

Spokespeople for the AHCA, Rick Scott, and Mike Fernandez have all made statements that seem pretty well-coordinated. They all talk about how fair this process was; how it was oh so "competitive"; no "favoritism"; used "objective criteria", and some other catchwords to essentially say move on, nothing to see here.

All I can say is, taking them at their word, Better Health, Inc. must have given one heck of a pitch to AHCA.

UPDATE: La Gitane just gave me a pic from the website. This no look good:

 photo 3dd35d46-931a-44a0-b8c5-6c7b23eccdbe_zps44d3b49f.jpg

1 comment :

  1. I fear by the time we vote Governor Geico Gecko out of office our poor state will be nothing but a smoldering husk of gutted public school districts, double digit unemployment and the highest rate of uninsured people in the country. I try not to hate people, but this poor excuse for a carbon based life form makes it ever more difficult.