Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott responds to a question during a gubernatorial debate against Democrat Charlie Crist on Oct. 10, 2014, in Miramar, Fla.
Photo by Lynne Sladky/AP

Florida’s Scott is the wrong man to lead the GOP’s health care gambit

Updated

Before entering politics, Rick Scott led a company called Columbia/HCA, which faced a federal fraud investigation over Medicare. Scott resigned as CEO; he felt the need to plead the Fifth 75 times during depositions, and his former company was ultimately fined $1.7 billion in what was, at the time, the biggest Medicare fraud case in history.

For some reason, Floridians weren’t especially bothered by this, so they elected him governor – twice.

While in office, the Republican governor rejected Medicaid expansion, creating a “coverage gap” of roughly 850,000 low-income Floridians. Rick Scott’s allied attorney general also joined the federal lawsuit intended to strip protections from Americans with pre-existing conditions. (The governor wasn’t directly responsible for the lawsuit, but he didn’t denounce it, either.)

Floridians were nevertheless impressed again, so they elected him to the Senate – where he’s become, as the Orlando Sentinel put it, Donald Trump’s “point man on GOP health care policy.”

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott is taking the lead on Republican health care policy as the Trump administration tries once again to end Obamacare.

President Trump named Scott and fellow GOP U.S. Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana as his point people on Capitol Hill at a question-and-answer session at the White House.

It’s important to emphasize that the group Donald Trump pointed to last week may not, in reality, exist. A Senate GOP aide told The Hill, in reference to Trump’s comments, “I think he just sort of listed names” of senators who frequently work on health care issues.

But even if the Florida Republican is prepared to tackle the issue, given Rick Scott’s unique background, shouldn’t the party turn to someone else?

Postscript: On CBS’s “Face the Nation” yesterday, the freshman Florida senator argued, “This idea of the government taking over health care and running all of health care has never worked. It’s not going to work.”

As the “point man” for his party on health care policy really ought to know, there’s an important difference between government-run health care (such as the UK’s NHS system) and a single-payer coverage model. A growing number of Democrats are advocating the latter; Scott appeared eager to attack the former.

As best as I can tell, there are no prominent American policymakers or candidates pushing for an NHS-style system.

If, on the other hand, Scott was simply confused about the differences, and he believes a “Medicare for All”-like system has “never worked,” the senator may be surprised to learn that there are many countries around the world with such systems, and they work just fine.

I’m not sure why the policymaker “taking the lead on Republican health care policy” wouldn’t know this.