Gov. Rick Scott’s war on hospitals continued last week when the Jobs Governor released a statement criticizing St. Petersburg General Hospital, UF Health Jacksonville, and Venice Regional Bayfront Health for being ranked by Consumer Reports among the worst hospitals in the nation for infection prevention.
“The news that three Florida hospitals are the worst in America for preventing infections is troubling and unacceptable,” Scott said.
It’s doubtful many outside the healthcare industry were even aware of the rankings before Scott highlighted them. But now they are front-and-center in Scott’s nonstop effort to embarrass the state’s hospital industry.
As Scott, the Legislature, and the state’s not-for-profit hospitals battled during the 2015 legislative session over whether to accept federal subsidies to expand Medicaid, the governor created a Commission on Healthcare to determine whether hospitals that receive tax money are being managed efficiently.
During its first meetings, the Commission, stacked largely with Scott’s Republican donors and allies from the business community, has mirrored concerns the governor — a former CEO of a for-profit hospital chain — has raised in the past, with support being voiced early on for deregulation and increased competition.
Criticizing Florida hospitals for a ranking in Consumer Reports is a new line of attack for Scott, who said, “this national study further shows the improvements this taxpayer-funded hospital needs to make for the patients they serve.”
Highlighting a negative about Florida is also a different tack for a governor who does not often go more than a day without sending out a press release about some sort of economic development in the state. Scott’s treatment of the hospital industry is akin to his high-visibility trips to other states, where he criticizes their economic environment while attempting to recruit jobs back to Florida.
One hospital industry lobbyist said they could not recall a Florida governor doing what Scott did on Friday. But that may only be the beginning of Scott’s new trolling strategy.
“We are looking at all options available at the statewide level to address this problem,” Scott said.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this post.