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The rise and fall of GOP money man and HMO founder, Akshay Desai

From the Tampa Bay Times:

In August, Universal Health Care Group was crumbling. Regulators circled. Bankruptcy loomed.

Still, founder and CEO Akshay Desai didn't publicly hint at any problems.

"As a businessman, I know all too well what it takes to make it in the private sector," he bragged at the time.

It was vintage Desai — supremely confident, selective with the facts. The 55-year-old son of Indian educators built Universal on smarts and ambition. He was charming when he needed to be, domineering when he wanted. One day he was persuading investors to part with tens of millions of dollars, the next he was berating employees to tears.

He rose high into the Republican fundraising ranks, dining with President George W. Bush at his Texas ranch. Eventually he realized his dream: a $1.5 billion health care company, with more than 140,000 members in 23 states.

But his success was largely an illusion. Story here.


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No More Rick Scott

Scott's prestigious empire all came a-tumbling down when, on March 19, 1997, FBI agents, in conjunction with the Internal Revenue Service, the Health and Human Services (which oversees Medicare), and the Defense Department's Criminal Investigation Service raided Columbia/HCA facilities in El Paso, Texas. Eventually the seizure of documents regarding the case would expand across the country. At issue were allegations that Columbia/HCA had knowingly bilked Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, according to the Justice Department, ten different kinds of fraud were charged and were filed in five different federal courts in four different states. The search warrants also included dozens of doctors with suspected connections to the alleged fraud.
Incidentally the reason why the Defense Department was involved in this investigation is because Columbia/HCA, through TriCare, managed the healthcare needs of veterans. So we can add the enlisted to the list of victims.

At the time, California Rep. Pete Stark, known for his stand on healthcare issues, expressed the hope that Columbia/HCA executives "will all be in jail soon." He had repeatedly urged that the company's practices be investigated.

By July of 1997, Rick Scott, president and CEO of the company, had been forced to resign. (Scott's website seems fond of the phrase "parted ways" like lonesome cowboys on the wide prairie)


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