Three years ago, state healthcare regulators moved to block Dr. Jack Michel’s bid to buy the Hollywood nursing home where more than a dozen elderly patients later met their deaths in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
But months later, after Michel retained a lobbyist confidant of Gov. Rick Scott – Fort Lauderdale’s William “Billy” Rubin – the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) reversed course. Records show it approved a pair of license transfers that Michel and his wholly-owned Larkin Community Hospital needed to buy and operate The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills and an adjacent mental health hospital.
As governor, Scott controls AHCA. For example, in the immediate aftermath of the loss of life at the Rehabilitation Center, he directed AHCA to terminate the facility as a Medicaid provider.
Rubin is Scott’s long-time friend and past business partner. In September, he was accused in a federal whistleblower suit brought by the former chairman of the North Broward Hospital District of being a behind-the-scenes power broker at Broward Health who boasted of controlling the governor’s appointments to its board of commissioners.