Category Archives: Conservatives For Patients Rights

This Year’s Karen Ryan?

Pity these poor British citizens, naive to the ways of American corporate astroturfing! They got duped by Rick Scott’s Conservatives for Patients’ Rights into appearing in an anti-healthcare reform advertisement:

Two British women who have become the unwitting stars of a campaign to derail Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms yesterday said that their views on the NHS had been misrepresented.

[…]

Ms Spall, whose mother died of kidney cancer while waiting for treatment, and Ms Brickell, who had cervical cancer diagnosed after being refused a smear test because she was too young, appear in the adverts telling how they were failed by the NHS.

But they informed The Times that they were told they were being interviewed for a documentary examining healthcare reform. Neither was aware that the footage was to be used for right-wing advertisements. Ms Spall said: “It has been a bit of a nightmare. It was a real test of my naivety. I am a very trusting person and for me it has been a big lesson. I feel I was duped.”

Here’s a thought: if you have to lie and misrepresent who you are to get British citizens to trash their National Health Service on camera, perhaps their system really ain’t so bad. But I digress.

Here’s where it gets weird:

CPR was set up by Richard Scott, a multimillionaire who founded the Columbia Hospital Corporation. Ms Spall was approached by a woman, who identified herself as Betsy Kulman, who said that she was making a documentary for the company. In an e-mail Ms Kulman wrote: “Columbia Healthcare in the US is underwriting a web documentary spanning the US, the UK, and Canada on the debate on healthcare reform. This segment will explore the difficult issues around the intersection between private and nationalised medicine.

“Who has been failed by socialised medicine and why? What can be done to change things for the better”

Oh, my.

For one thing, there is no company called “Columbia Healthcare.” That company has been HCA ever since Rick Scott was ousted after his company defrauded taxpayers and gave doctors kickbacks.

You know, the kind of rapacious behavior a for-profit healthcare system just begs for. The irony of this assclown becoming the voice of healthcare reform should be lost on no one.

[Unrelated fun fact: in the early ‘90s, Rick Scott was George W. Bush’s partner in the Texas Rangers. The Republican Party is nothing if not incestuous.]

Here’s another odd thing: A British blogger named Gordon Cooper, whose wife has breast cancer, has been chronicling his family’s ordeal on his blog. And in January of this year Betsy Kulman left the following comment on his blog:

Hello Gordon,

My name is Betsy Kulman, and I am a journalist in the US. I’m so sorry about what your wife (and you) are going through with her cancer. I am sure this is a very scary time.


I am working (urgently) on a web documentary on privatized vs socialized medicine, which will include the US, Canada, and the NHS in the UK. What are the pros and the cons of each…as the US moves toward more nationalized care.


It seems you have you been somewhat dissatisfied with some of the care your wife is receiving… and I would like to talk to you further if you think that is due the NHS or just bad record keeping etc… Are you and your wife interested in sharing any information? Ultimately I want to find someone to interview/profile on camera (to shoot in mid-February) for this web story being underwritten by Columbia Healthcare in the US. If you all want to talk about this, my email is betsykulman@yahoo.com. I am on a crazy short deadline so please let me know… I would be very interested in your viewpoint and thank you both so much for even considering helping us at this juncture, considering all you have on your plate. I appreciate it and do hope I will hear from you.


Many thanks, Betsy

January 31, 2009 9:45 PM

Interesting. President Obama had barely taken his oath of office and they were already collecting footage and horror stories from across the pond to trash “nationalized care”?

Who is Betsy Kulman, anyway? She identifies herself as a journalist, and there is indeed an award-winning field producer named Betsy Kulman who has worked for CNN, ABC, Fox and others. I also found a Betsy Kulman–a Vanderbilt University graduate, no less–who is owner of BK Productions, a media firm in Washington, D.C.

Are they the same person? If so, field producer Kulman can kiss her award-winning news career goodbye now that she’s working for a lobbyist and misrepresenting herself to overseas sources. “Karen Ryan, reporting” anyone?

The other question I have is, what is HCA’s financial relationship to Rick Scott’s Conservatives For Patients’ Rights group? In January Ms. Kulman was telling people that her “web documentary” was being underwritten by “Columbia Healthcare.” Conservatives For Patients’ Rights opened its doors in February–and it turns out her “documentary” is in fact no more than advertisements against healthcare reform. So I guess we can surmise that HCA is underwriting the anti-reform activities of Conservatives For Patients Rights, which makes sense since Rick Scott used to be head of the company.

This is good to know. HCA is a for-profit hospital chain. The company paid $1.7 billion to settle the government’s fraud claim, the largest healthcare fraud case in U.S. history.

Vendetta, much?

This is who is fighting healthcare reform, misrepresenting themselves to people in the United Kingom as “journalists” working on a “web documentary,” and trying to stop moves to reform our broken system.

Betsy Kulman the journalist has an impressive resume. But if this is the same person who has been shilling for Conservatives For Patients’ Rights, it’s going to discredit any future work she may do for the networks.

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Filed under Conservatives For Patients Rights, HCA, healthcare

>Good Luck With That

>Apparently some in the Republican Party (cough*cough*TEA BAGGERS”cough*cough*) think being obstructionist on healthcare reform is a political winner:

“I can almost guarantee you this thing won’t pass before August, and if we can hold it back until we go home for a month’s break in August,” members of Congress will hear from “outraged” constituents, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint said on the call, which was organized by the group Conservatives for Patients Rights.

“Senators and Congressmen will come back in September afraid to vote against the American people,” DeMint predicted, adding that “this health care issue Is D-Day for freedom in America.”

“If we’re able to stop Obama on this it will be his Waterloo. It will break him,” he said.

It really is just all about politics with this crowd, isn’t it? Yes, I imagine Congress Critters will hear from angry constituents: angry because they put politics over the needs of the people, that they did nothing to reform a system that is hopelessly broken.

For a recap on Conservatives for Patients Rights, that is the anti-reform group formed by disgraced Columbia/HCA chairman Rick Scott, the company responsible for the largest healthcare fraud scandal in U.S. history. Scott left Columbia/HCA in tatters, with a golden parachute to the tune of $10 million. And the company handling the group’s PR? The same folks who handled the Swift Boat campaign.

So the clueless tea baggers are being played by their corporate overlords. No wonder we point our fingers and laugh at you.

Anyway, healthcare reform is a national necessity. The system we have now is permanently broken, everyone knows it. I don’t see how being obstructionist on reforming a broken system that only works for corporate crooks like Rick Scott and the Swift Boat smearmongers is going to be a winner for the Republican Party.

But, good luck with that.

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Filed under Conservatives For Patients Rights, healthcare

Don’t Google Rick Scott

Aw heck, go ahead and give it a try.

In the battle over healthcare, Rick Scott is doing the rounds in his position as chairman of Conservatives for Patients Rights. He’s spreading scary “Obama will socialize healthcare” lies, pushed by the same flacks who gave us the Swift Boat Veterans Against John Kerry.

This statement is especially ironic. I’ll tell you why in a sec:

“After the embarrassment of the AIG bonus scandal, these same people are now talking about ramming a $634 billion health care plan through Congress, and we still don’t have any details,” Scott said in a statement.

I dunno, seems to me associating yourself with a firm tainted by the Swift Boat smearmongers is like showing up at a company picnic with a basketful of turd sandwiches. There’s that whiff of illegitimacy that attaches to your message, which I’d think conservatives would have figured out by now. Guess not.

Anyway, the PR firm Scott hired is the least of his worries. Scott himself comes with a strong stench of merde attached to his name, by virtue of his tenure at the tainted Columbia/HCA. And yes, the news media has noticed:

Once lauded for building Columbia/HCA into the largest health care company in the world, Mr. Scott was ousted by his own board of directors in 1997 amid the nation’s biggest health care fraud scandal. The company’s guilty plea and payment of $1.7 billion to settle charges including the overbilling of state and federal health programs was taken as a repudiation of Mr. Scott’s relentless bottom-line approach.

For those who don’t remember, Columbia/HCA defrauded Medicare and other government programs in a huge scandal that forced the hospital chain to rename itself TriStar, a la AIG and Enron. After an investigation that lasted over 7 years, Columbia/HCA entered a guilty plea and paid the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history:

The company admitted to systematically overcharging the government by claiming marketing costs as reimbursable, by striking illegal deals with home care agencies, and by filing false data about how hospital space was being used.

The company increased Medicare billings by exaggerating the seriousness of the illnesses they were treating. It also granted doctors partnerships in company hospitals as a kickback for the doctors referring patients to HCA. In addition, it gave doctors “loans” that were never expected to be paid back, free rent, free office furniture, and free drugs from hospital pharmacies.

The investigation and the plea is an obvious blow to a company that became a Wall Street darling by promising to bring first-class business practices to the hospital sector, still dominated by not-for-profits. Under former Chief Executive Richard Scott, it bought hospitals by the bucketful and promised to squeeze blood from each one.

Healthcare for profit! Double-bill the government! Kickbacks! Excuse me, Mr. Scott, if your pearl-clutching over “the AIG bonus scandal” rings a little hollow. Especially when you left Columbia/HCA with your own golden parachute:

Scott received a lump sum payment of $5.1 million when he resigned July 25 under pressure from Columbia’s board as a federal fraud investigation began engulfing the nation’s largest hospital company, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Over the next five years he’ll collect another $4.8 million through annual consulting fees of $950,000. Scott, who co-founded the $20 billion company a decade ago with two Texas hospitals, was making a base salary of $900,000 a year.

Oh, sweet!

You’ve really gotta wonder how strong the message is when Rick Scott is the best messenger the anti-healthcare overhaul folks could find. Indeed, corporate crooks like Scott notwithstanding, it appears other healthcare stakeholders are ready to back reform.

Looks like this is yet another issue in which conservatives are on the wrong side. And finding a corporate weasel like Rick Scott to be your messenger doesn’t sound like a winning strategy.

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Filed under Conservatives For Patients Rights, healthcare, Swift Boat Veterans For Truth