State panel recommends equitable funding to public, private hospitals

A panel appointed by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to determine whether the state's public hospitals provide better or worse care than private ones recommended some major changes to public healthcare facilities in its final report released Tuesday.

In particular, the Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts suggested that voters reapprove taxpayer-funded hospital districts every 8 or 12 years or shut down them down, according to the report.

It also recommended adopting a "money follows the patient" system to provide more equitable financial support for all hospitals in the area that treat indigent patients, according to the report.

After Scott's election, he formed the panel tasked with scrutinizing the state's public hospitals, but the Commission said available outcome data prevented it from determining whether quality of care was higher or lower based on hospital ownership.  

"A key problem in attempting to conduct a comparative analysis of hospitals is that they are very diverse and their business models are complex," the report said. "It is extremely difficult to compare rural hospitals to larger hospitals because rural hospitals often have too few patients to produce comparable data. It is also difficult to compare larger hospitals because they offer a different array of services," the report continued.

Despite the recommendations, it remains uncertain what actions Florida lawmakers will take when the annual legislative session begins next Tuesday, Sunshine Slate notes.

For more information:
- here's the report (.pdf)
- read the Sunshine Slate article