Bowling said physicals and shots are a very small percent of Solantic's revenues; more than half its business is nights, weekends and holidays when most other providers (including health departments) are closed.
Scott appoints the heads of the Agency for Health Care Administration and Department of Health, which license, inspect and investigate complaints against providers such as Solantic. Herron, the ethics lawyer, said it's legal.
"It's counter intuitive to our understanding of how the world works, but that's the law, strictly construed," he said.
Bowling dismissed worries that state regulators would be influenced by Scott, saying both inspections and complaints are handled under a formal process, with inspection reports publicly available. In 60 inspections at Solantic clinics since 2005, Bowling said, the state found only seven deficiencies, all of which were quickly corrected.
Solantic has built a successful business without state help, relying on patients who have commercial insurance, Medicare or cash. Medicaid accounts for only 3.1 percent of all patient visits. (The company declined to reveal revenues but said it plans to open eight new locations this year.)
Payments by state agencies to the company have been limited mostly to payments from the health department for disability determinations. Solantic's return: $14 per patient.
Bowling said the disability work is subcontracted through a company that handles workers' compensation cases. "It's the smallest percentage of our revenues," she said.
But as Solantic has grown, so too have the number of state agencies using its services. And in the urgent care business, high volume, along with low overhead, is crucial to profits.
Bowling said Solantic billed state agencies $110,657 for services in 2010 and $20,061 so far in 2011.
Scott worked with Bowling when he was chief executive of the Columbia/HCA hospital chain and she was a marketing executive there. In 1997, Scott was forced out amid a federal billing fraud investigation that resulted in the company paying a $1.7 billion penalty. Scott, who left with $10 million in severance and $300 million worth of stock and options, was never charged with any wrongdoing.
Four years later, Scott used part of that wealth to start Solantic with Bowling. Scott was active in the company and on its board until January 2010, when he began his run for governor.
Charles R. Evans, a retired HCA executive who worked with Scott, now represents Scott's wife's trust. He also is chairman of the Solantic board.
Said Bowling, "I have not discussed Solantic with Gov. Scott or his wife since he became governor."
Scott's ownership of Solantic, particularly his refusal to release depositions taken in a lawsuit involving the company, were heated issues during his gubernatorial campaign. But apparently it wasn't until after his election that Scott began tackling the question of how he was going to handle his biggest investment and the one with the greatest potential for conflict while in office.
In December, Scott's lawyers consulted informally on three occasions with representatives of the Florida Commission on Ethics about applicable laws and how public officials have dealt with their investments in the past, according to the commission. Philip Claypool, executive director and general counsel of the commission, was present at two of those meetings, one of which took place in his mother's living room during an unrelated trip Claypool made to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 10.