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Friday, Oct 2, 2009, 8:38 am

Daily Pulse: [Audio Interview] Meet America’s Biggest Anti-Health Reform Crusader

By Lindsay Beyerstein
It was a roller coaster week for proponents of the public option. While the Senate Finance Committee rejected two proposed public option amendments, four of the five health bills produced by congressional committees include a public option. The next stage is to put those bills together in a process called conference, that results in a final piece of legislation that the House and the Senate will vote on. In this video clip, Marcy Wheeler tells VideoNation that progressives can continue the fight for a public option by emulating a tried and true Blue Dog strategy: Focus on building a bloc of votes, not on flipping the opposition.



This strategy is working pretty well in the House where dozens of progressive members have pledged to vote against any bill that doesn't include a public option.

In an exclusive audio interview with Tristam Korten, whose two-part series on anti-health reform crusader Rick Scott ran in Salon this week, Korten and I discuss how Scott is personally bankrolling a multimillion dollar campaign against health care reform.

Who is this man? Scott used to run the largest hospital chain in the country, until the firm was found to have defrauded Medicare out of $2 billion. Scott was never charged, but he was sent packing in the wake of the scandal. He has since founded Solantic, a Florida chain of bare-bones walk-in clinics that profit by offering the uninsured lower rates than they’d get at the ER. Why are their rates lower? Because hospitals currently jack up the price of ER visits to compensate for the fact that so many uninsured patients don’t pay their bills at all. If we had universal health insurance, everyone would pay the same price and Solantic wouldn’t seem like such a good deal.

As Korten and I discuss in our interview, Scott has been accused of discriminating against employees who don’t meet his marketing-driven image of an attractive, “clean cut,” young staff. Solantic recently settled out of court with several staffers who said they were fired for refusing to enforce the company’s biased hiring policies.

Korten's research was supported by a grant from the Investigative Fund of the Nation Institute.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care and is free to reprint. Visit Healthcare.newsladder.net for a complete list of articles on health care affordability, health care laws, and health care controversy. For the best progressive reporting on the Economy, and Immigration, check out Economy.Newsladder.net and Immigration.Newsladder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and created by NewsLadder.

Lindsay Beyerstein is an award-winning investigative journalist and In These Times staff writer who writes the blog Duly Noted. Her stories have appeared in Newsweek, Salon, Slate, The Nation, Ms. Magazine, and other publications. Her photographs have been published in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times' City Room. She also blogs at The Hillman Blog (http://www.hillmanfoundation.org/hillmanblog), a publication of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, a non-profit that honors journalism in the public interest.

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