Rick Scott Lets His Pals Run a Monopoly on State Employees' Health Care Coverage
|Illustration by Miche Ratto|
In a move the DMS says was "following the governor's direction," the department predicts the change will save taxpayers $400 million in two years.
The new HMO provider for 38 counties in the state -- including Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade -- also happens to have some close ties to Gov. Rick Scott.
AvMed Health Plans, which won the bid to be the sole HMO provider in the 38 counties, happened to be very friendly to Scott on the campaign trail.
State campaign contribution records don't provide details of donors' employment, but Health News Florida reported during Scott's campaign for governor that he received $5,000 from people associated with AvMed. The company itself also shelled out $10,000 for Scott's inauguration party.
On the other hand, UnitedHealthcare of Florida -- which claims it provided HMO coverage to 66 of the state's 67 counties before it was butted out of most of them -- has no such record of contributions to the governor. In fact, the contribution records show that someone named David Lewis -- the same name of UnitedHealthcare's CEO for Central and North Florida -- and claiming to be of the medical profession donated $500 to Alex Sink, Scott's Democratic challenger.
Incidentally, UnitedHealthcare of Florida has filed a formal protest against the state's decision to nix its HMO coverage from most counties, claiming that the Department of Management Services rejected its bid to continue the HMO coverage of 47,000 people that would have been cheaper for the state.
The protest says the department heavily favored AvMed in the bidding process and claims that the state won't save $400 million. Instead, UnitedHealthcare claims that between the new contracts with AvMed and the providers for the other counties, the state's cost would actually increase $117 million.
But wait, there's more!
This is the same AvMed that claimed that personal health care information regarding nearly 1.2 million current and former state employees was "stolen" from its offices just last year.
What was claimed to be one of the largest breaches of medical records in history led to a class-action lawsuit filed in a Miami-Dade County court that has not been settled.
Lastly, there's AvMed's president and chief operating officer, Ed Hannum, who donated money to the campaigns of both Scott and Sink and also serves as an executive committee member at-large for Florida TaxWatch -- an organization that has given some high praise to the governor since he's taken office.
|Ed Hannum (second from right), and Gov. Rick Scott (center, bald).|
And wouldn't you be surprised if Florida TaxWatch had recommended this new plan to the governor and Department of Management Services?
In Florida TaxWatch's most recent health care recommendations, it advocated both a self-funding HMO model and savings from "consolidation of services both medically and geographically," which were both adopted in the new HMO policy rolled out on Monday.
The 26,000 state employees who will have a new HMO provider can either switch to the new one or opt to enroll into the state's preferred-provider organizations program.
As Gov. Scott says in his statement on the HMO choices, "This is what Floridians asked for, and I intend to make sure their government delivers it."
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