Richard L. Scott
Born in Bloomington, Illinois and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Richard Scott is considered one of America’s foremost entrepreneurs. The son of a truck driver and JC Penney clerk, Rick is known as an innovator in business, health care, and politics, and has developed a reputation in the health care industry for providing affordable, high quality services through a patient-centric approach to cost and care. Rick is the founder of two health care providers, Columbia Hospital Corporation and Solantic Corporation, which builds and operates urgent care facilities throughout Florida. Rick also started Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, an organization founded to defend free market principles in health care that focused successfully on defeating President Obama’s government-run public option plan.
Rick has been married to his high school sweetheart, Ann, for 38 years. They have two wonderful daughters, Jordan and Allison.
An Early Entrepreneur
After high school and one year of community college, Rick enlisted in the United States Navy, where he served on active duty aboard the USS Glover as a radar man. Rick then enrolled at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and, while also working full-time at a local grocery store, he made his first significant foray into the business world by buying two Kansas City doughnut shops for his mother to manage.
Following graduation from UMKC with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, Rick earned a law degree from Southern Methodist University. He stayed in Dallas, working for the city’s largest law firm, Johnson & Swanson, primarily representing companies in the health care, oil and gas and communication industries. His specialization was in health care mergers and acquisitions and it was during his work on these transactions that he recognized how patients could be better served by improving hospital efficiency, which would lead to lower costs and better outcomes.
In the spring of 1987, while still practicing law, Rick put together a six billion dollar finance package and made an offer to purchase HCA, Inc. When the offer was rejected, Rick started Columbia with his entire life savings of $125,000.
Making Hospitals Less Costly For Patients
Beginning with two El Paso, Texas hospitals and continuing for the next nine years, Columbia purchased hospitals and instituted practices that made them more efficient, allowing patients to pay less while receiving better outcomes. In 1994, Rick made a successful bid for HCA, Inc., which at that time owned approximately 100 hospitals, and the company’s name changed to Columbia/HCA. By the end of 1995, Rick had added 80 more hospitals to the network, primarily in rural communities, and implemented his signature cost-saving practices throughout the organization.
Some of Rick’s most successful reforms significantly improved patient care and enabled Columbia/HCA to take a leadership role in reducing death rates after bypass surgery. Reforms included an innovative system of ranking Columbia’s almost 100 open heart programs across the country for mortality. He also created efficient ways to reduce waste and streamline procedures. In the ten years he operated Columbia, supply costs went down from over 16.8% percent of revenue per year to less than 13.5% percent per year.
Under Rick’s leadership, Columbia had a “best demonstrated practices” group that constantly worked on ways to reduce costs, improve outcomes and benefit patients. Columbia’s success also resulted in approximately two billion dollars in funding for charitable foundations, many of which focus on ways to improve health care in America.
In 1997, Columbia was recognized by Business Week as one of the 50 Best Performing Companies of the S&P 500. TIME magazine praised Columbia resoundingly: “Scott’s credo is a classic: quality care doesn’t have to come at a premium price. But it’s the way Scott is accomplishing that goal that is transforming how American hospitals do business. In an industry notorious for waste and inefficiency, Scott aggressively consolidates operations and imposes cost controls.”
When Rick left Columbia in 1997 at the age of 44, it was one of the most admired companies in America. It had grown to become the world’s largest health care company with more than 340 hospitals, 135 surgery centers, and 550 home health locations in 37 states and two foreign countries. Columbia’s annual revenues exceeded $20 billion, and it employed more than 285,000 people, making it the 7th largest U.S. employer and the 12th largest employer worldwide. Though Columbia owned only five percent of the hospitals in the country in 1997, the company operated more than a quarter of the Top 100 Hospitals in America, as ranked by Mercer/HCIA.
Continuing To Innovate
In late 1997, Rick purchased a controlling interest in America’s Health Network, which later merged with Fox Entertainment to become The Health Network and later Discovery Health. In June 1998, America’s Health Network showed the first live birth on the Internet. In 2001, Rick co-founded Solantic Corporation, which operates unique and innovative urgent care centers across Florida. These centers provide urgent care for patients with no insurance, patients who cannot get in to see their personal physician or patients who prefer not to go to the emergency room for less serious health care needs. Solantic was the first urgent care center operator to have menu boards similar to Starbucks, listing all prices up front.
Solantic also serves workers who have been injured on the job, and those in need of routine physicals, immunizations and flu shots.
Solantic also has a Three-Day Feel Better Guarantee. Patients whose condition has not improved three days after their initial Solantic visit have the opportunity to return to be treated for free.
In July 2007, Solantic completed a deal to expand the company into Wal-Mart Super Centers in Florida, and the company now has 27 locations across Florida.
Conservatives for Patients’ Rights
In March 2009, Rick launched Conservatives for Patients’ Rights (CPR), an advocacy group dedicated to the free market principles of choice, competition, accountability and personal responsibility in health care. Modeling the organization after his own efforts in the industry, the goal of CPR was to prevent further government encroachment on the rights of patients. Seeded with $5 million from Rick, the group produced a thirty-minute documentary entitled Faces of Government-Run Health Care, which told the frustrating and tragic stories of Canadian and British patients who have languished under Canada’s Medicare and the UK’s National Health Service.
As President Obama’s government-run public option plan began to take shape, Rick directed CPR to focus specifically on stopping the public option plan, even as political groups launched attacks against Rick and the debate began to intensify.
In mid-August of 2009, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs complained to the White House Press Corps that Rick Scott and Conservatives for Patients Rights were fueling the momentum behind the August Tea Party rallies.
In November of 2009, AOL Politics Daily writer Matt Lewis called Rick “The Unsung Conservative Hero of the Health Care Debate,” crediting Rick with rejecting conventional wisdom and running an unorthodox campaign that spread the free market message coast-to-coast rather then specifically targeting key states. Rick’s strategy, Lewis said, “…helped generate the coast-to-coast momentum that led to the August town-hall meeting phenomenon, which ultimately put Democrats back on their heels.”
For his role in founding CPR, Rick won the Weyrich Award for Business Person of the Year for 2009. The Weyrich Awards are given to “leaders in the conservative movement who have made significant contributions to the cause of liberty.” They are awarded annually in honor of late conservative leader Paul Weyrich. Rick was a co-winner and shared the honor with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.
On February 2nd, CPR received wide coverage when the group publicly declared victory over the public option after it became clear that President Obama didn’t have the support to get it through Congress.
Through his efforts to oppose more government involvement in health care, Rick has been a guest on dozens of national television and radio programs including CNN’s Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, FOX News’ Hannity, and radio’s Laura Ingraham Show, to name a few. He has been profiled in Fortune Magazine, the New York Times, and several other major media outlets.
Faith, Family and Community Involvement
Rick resides in Naples, Florida with his wife Ann, his high school sweetheart. They have been married for 37 years and have two grown daughters. Rick is a Christian and has attended church his whole life. He is currently a trustee and member of Naples Community Church, which he helped start in 2006.
Throughout his career, Rick has been involved in a variety of charitable activities including serving on the National Board of the United Way from 1997 to 2003. From 1999 to 2003, Rick worked with World Vision to create a primary health care system in Bunyala, a poor area of Kenya.
In 1993, Rick initiated a scholarship program for high school graduates of his Kansas City high school and he funds a scholarship to one low income student each year at SMU Law School. Rick also funds an entrepreneurship contest at George Washington University, the school where his daughter received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.