State considers scrapping hospital district finances

The state of Florida has been taking a close look at how it finances its hospital districts--a move that could impact other states with district hospitals, reports Kaiser Health News.

A panel appointed by Gov. Rick Scott has been examining ways to cut back on taxpayer payments to hospital districts. Such districts became popular in mostly rural areas of the United States after World War II in order to pay for the construction of regional hospitals. In Florida, many district hospitals also serve large numbers of poor patients.

One district drawing particular attention in the Sunshine State is in Lake County. The district there helps to fund three area hospitals based on a $1 million levy on residents.

"The taxpayers are paying all their taxes, and out of those general taxes we're paying for all these programs, general programs. Then on top of that the taxpayers of North Lake County are paying 1 mill to pay for these Medicare and Medicaid shortfalls. I just don't think the system is properly structured," said State Rep. Larry Metz, a Republican.

Metz has suggested scrapping the district's current structure and putting the formation of a new district to a voter referendum.

The Florida Hospital Association has objected to redrawing district rules, noting that any changes to funding could impact how the state draws matching funds for the Medicaid program.

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article