The video above, unearthed back in September by Brian Crowley, is of Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott joking with a fake George W. Bush (and recounting a dinner with the real former president and his family.) But back in the day, Rick Scott was CEO of Columbia/HCA, and he wanted then-Texas Gov. Bush to do something for him.
While searching for info for another post, I ran across an interesting clip from an old New York Times profile of Richard E. Rainwater, the man who engineered George W. Bush’s stake in the Texas Rangers, which he later sold for more than $10 million — forming the foundation of his wealth (since his prior oil businesses, funded by his father’s Saudi allies, had failed.) Bush shared that stake in the Major League Baseball team with one Richard Scott. And that’s where the fun begins. From the Times piece, first up — Mr. Bush and Mr. Rainwater:
Not long after going out on his own in 1986, Mr. Rainwater connected with another Texan, Richard L. Scott, a lawyer who believed that investor-owned hospitals could be both efficient and highly profitable. They soon joined forces and the result was Columbia/HCA, the nation’s biggest chain of for-profit hospitals.
While Mr. Bush and Mr. Rainwater have described themselves as friends, people who know them said they are not particularly close. And they did not know each other before Mr. Bush approached the businessman in 1989 for help in putting together an investment group to buy the Texas Rangers.
In their first conversation, Mr. Bush was rebuffed. Only after the Baseball Commissioner, Peter V. Ueberroth, intervened, intent on having Mr. Bush include Texas investors, did Mr. Rainwater agree to take part. He and a group of associates eventually put up half of the $46 million price.
Mr. Rainwater’s role in the Texas Rangers is well known. But not long after, he began offering Mr. Bush investment opportunities in oil and gas, real estate and Americredit, the car loan company, which all together yielded at least $650,000, and possibly hundreds of thousands more. In 1994, he contributed $100,000 when Mr. Bush successfully ran for Governor.
And next, Mr. Bush, Mr. Rainwater, Mrs. Rainwater, and Mr. Scott:
Mr. Bush’s investments with Mr. Rainwater were questioned during his 1994 race against Governor Richards and after as Texas newspapers and other news organizations scrutinized their ties.
One issue was whether Governor Bush’s proposal to privatize state psychiatric hospitals could benefit Magellan Health Services Inc., a company in which Mr. Rainwater is the largest shareholder. Had the plan gone forward, which it did not, Magellan Health would have been a prime contender for such a contract. But in fact, the privatization proposal did not originate with Mr. Bush. It was in a 1994 report by the state’s Democratic comptroller, John Sharp.
Governor Bush, however, did not divorce himself completely from the concerns of companies tied to Mr. Rainwater. In early 1995, Mr. Scott, the chief executive of Columbia/ HCA, met with the Governor to express his concerns about a Medicaid bill in the Texas Legislature, documents obtained under the state’s open-records law by The New York Times show. The bill was intended to expand the number of children and adults covered by the state’s health-insurance program for the poor.
People involved in the ensuing debate said they did not see any evidence that Mr. Bush had tried to affect the final bill, though Mr. Rainwater’s interests in the matter were well-known.
”The only thing that went around was the affiliation between the Governor and Mr. Rainwater, that anything being done was a favor to him,” said Hugo Berlanga, a former state representative from Corpus Christi who was involved with the bill. ”I thought it was a far reach.”
In recent years, some of Mr. Rainwater’s investments have lost their luster. In 1997, for example, Columbia/HCA became the subject of a wide-ranging Federal investigation into Medicare fraud. (Mr. Rainwater’s wife, Darla D. Moore, a former investment banker with Chemical Bank who took over his seat on Columbia/HCA’s board in 1994, was widely credited with removing Mr. Scott as its chief executive.)
Hm … So Scott lobbied to stop the expansion of children’s healthcare coverage in Texas, to benefit Columbia/HCA’s profits … just like he fought to stop national healthcare reform, which would expand insurance coverage for Americans, potentially cutting into the margins for his for-profit Solantic clinics, which profit off the uninsured? And after his efforts were successful, but Columbia/HCA was caught defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, the wife of his business partner was credited with shoving him out the door (with $300 million to break his fall.)
This just never gets less interesting.