By Ralph De La Cruz
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting
There needs to be an intervention.
Someone needs to help Rick Scott help himself. To face his inner political demons. To find himself.
Because Scott’s position on tracking the overuse of prescription pain pills isn’t based in reality.
Reality was what happened Wednesday throughout South Florida.
Law enforcement officials raided 11 pill mills and arrested 23 people. Evidence was seized at another 15 clinics, so expect even more arrests in the future.
It may seem massive. But it’s like putting one of those little thimbles of half-and-half into a 10-gallon container of coffee. It’s not going to change it much.
Bob LaMendola and Alexia Campbell of the Sun-Sentinel remind us that Florida has 1,167 pill mills. Broward County alone has 117. Palm Beach County another 108. And those are just the ones registered as pain clinics.
One man alone, Vincent Colangelo, was allegedly earning $150,000 a day from his seven pill mills. The cops seized $22 million in property and vehicles from him. He had 46 cars, including a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren and two Lamborghinis.
Tallahassee, we’ve got a problem.
The mothers of addicts, and even some recovering addicts, were so ecstatic that something was finally being done that they took to the streets.
“Woo hoo, I want to do cartwheels,” Tina Reed, a pill mill activist in Davie, told the Sun-Sentinel. Her son almost died as a result of his addiction to pain pills.
What was Scott’s reaction to all this?
Denial, of course. Isn’t that the dysfunctional way?
Scott has asked the Florida legislature to kill a soon-to-be-launched database that tracks pain pill prescriptions. The database would make it tougher for people (and pill dealers) to go from doctor to doctor to get prescription after prescription.
“Sure, it might reduce abuse by some individuals who visit legitimate pharmacies to fuel a drug habit, but it’ll do little to stop so-called pill mills,” Scott’s spokesman, Brian Burgess, wrote in an e-mail.
Scott is worried that the database might cost the state some money. A million a year. Out of a $66 billion state budget.
It’s one-trick-pony governing: government’s only role is not to spend money.
The really wild thing is that most folks, including members of Scott’s own political party, insist that the cost is already taken care of — without state money.
“What the governor’s office said is totally incorrect,” said a spokesman for Republican state Sen. Mike Fasano.
There’s only one word to describe what’s happening here: dysfunction.
And pleanty of people have tried to intervene.
U.S. Heath and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has tried.
The Broward County Medical Association has tried.
The Florida Society of Pain Management Providers has tried.
A group of West Virginia legislators have tried.
Members of Congress, including Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers, have tried.
Actually, maybe there’s one person who might be able to help. Someone personally affected by pain pill addiction. He’s a South Florida guy. And a tea party fave.
Rush, how about an intervention, baby?