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Most people have heard that Tom Delay, former U.S. House Majority Leader from Texas, was convicted of criminal money laundering charges related to campaign fundraising. What most people may not know, is who gave him all that money and what did they expect in return? The fact is that money came from nursing home corporations. Former Majority Leader Delay was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiring to launder money, including money from nursing home corporations, to illegally influence the outcome of legislative elections in Texas in 2002. A jury convicted Mr. Delay of redirecting donations, including those from a nursing home corporation to the campaigns of seven chosen state house candidates.
These candidates won a majority in the Texas House as a result of the 2002 elections, and nursing home corporations got what they wanted most: a so-called tort reform law that virtually outlawed lawsuits against nursing homes for abuse and neglect of Texas’ most vulnerable senior citizens.
Rick Scott, former chairman and CEO of Columbia Hospital Corporation of America, and now Florida’s Governor, was forced to resign his post at that corporation in 1997 after the FBI, the IRS and the Department of Health & Human Services prosecuted his company for fraudulent billing practices. In 2002, Columbia/HCA pled guilty to 14 felonies and agreed to pay the largest fraud settlement in the history of the U.S.A. Columbia/HCA admitted to systematically overbilling Medicare and other health care programs by exaggerating diagnoses and paying kickbacks to doctors for patient referrals. In all, Columbia/HCA paid billions to settle these claims, by far the largest fraud settlement in the history of the U.S.A.
Who do you think got Rick Scott elected? What do you think they expect from him?
It should come as no surprise that Rick Scott identified in his inaugural address the so-called “axis of unemployment” which he said included “litigation” and that he wants to limit the rights of consumers to seek justice in courts. He doesn’t just want to restrict rights or eliminate frivolous lawsuits. Make no mistake about that. He wants to eliminate consumer claims, as a practical matter, almost entirely, even immunizing doctors and hospitals from virtually all claims for medical negligence, no matter how severe the harm: paralysis, brain damage, amputation, and even death.
Texas justice is coming to Florida unless consumers stop the sale of the civil justice system to big business. Remember this, too. There will be no legislation proposed to limit the rights of these hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and big businesses to sue you. Only limits on your rights to sue them.
Call your Congressman and tell him or her that this is wrong. Call your local newspaper and tell them to expose this obscene exploitation of your local state government. Make them hear your voice. Or when you need the courthouse, you’ll find the doors are locked and justice only a past memory.