Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott wants to test welfare recipients for illegal drug use.
The welfare drug-testing law was an expensive one that Scott wanted taxpayers to pick up the tab for. As The New York Times notes, since the majority of drug tests came back negative, the state had to reimburse applicants the $30 fee. That cost Florida taxpayers $118,140, which is $45,780 more than the benefits that would have been paid without the drug testing.
However, there may be another reason why Gov. Scott appears determined to pursue policies that funnel taxpayer money through the health care industry. Solantic, the chain of health care clinics performing much of Florida’s drug testing, was co-founded by Rick Scott.
In 2011, Scott transferred his shares in Solantic to his wife, so while not directly linked to the company, the Scott household still stands to personally benefit financially from the drug-testing law, raising serious questions of a conflict of interest.
Rick Scott was also the CEO of Hospital Corporation of America, now called Columbia/HCA, during the 1990s, when the FBI found extensive fraudulent billing of Medicare and Medicaid. According to the Sun Sentinel, “Four mid-level executives of the company were criminally charged and tried in Tampa. Two were convicted, but both won on appeal. Scott was never charged and left Columbia/HCA with $10 million in severance and stock valued at $300 million.”
The HCA Medicare fraud case was the largest in the country, which resulted in $1.7 billion in fines.
It’s interesting how the Florida governor’s distrust of poor welfare recipients happens to dovetail with his personal financial interests.