Healthcare Enemy #1

Christopher Hayes, The Nation: Rick Scott is the man who best embodies the spirit of the current conservative opposition. Politico recently reported that the millionaire Republican would be heading up Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), a new group that plans to spend around $20 million to kill President Obama’s efforts at healthcare reform.

Having Scott lead the charge against healthcare reform is like tapping Bernie Madoff to campaign against tighter securities regulation. You see, the for-profit hospital chain Scott helped found — the one he ran and built his entire reputation on — was discovered to be in the habit of defrauding the government out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

But in Washington there’s no such thing as permanent disgrace, and as the healthcare debate heats up, Scott has established himself as a go-to source for reporters looking to hear from the opposition. He’s been quoted in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. He’s been on Fox, of course, railing against President Obama’s efforts to control healthcare costs. He appeared on CNN, where (as Media Matters noted) host Jessica Yellin never saw fit to notify viewers that the man she introduced as running “a media campaign to limit government’s role in the healthcare system” once ran a company that profited mightily from ripping off that government.

Indeed, if there’s one thing that’s most galling about Scott’s antigovernment jihad — and most emblematic — it’s that for all his John Galt bluster, he made his fortune (which, yes, he still has) in no small part thanks to steady contract fees from the Great Society’s entitlement programs.

Congressman Pete Stark, a veteran of the last bruising round of fighting over healthcare reform, remembers Scott all too well. Stark recently sent his colleagues a letter hoping to refresh their memories. Calling Scott a “swindler,” the letter said, “If he is the conservative spokesperson against healthcare reform, there is no debate.”

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