Gov. Scott: Review whether public hospitals are a good idea

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Saying he wants taxpayers to get their money? worth in health care, Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order late Wednesday appointing a commission to scrutinize the performance and costs of hospitals operated by local governments, reports Carol Gentry of Health News Florida.

His Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts has nine months to study whether it is in the public? best interest to have government entities operating hospitals at all.

Beyond that, the panel is to look for the most effective model of providing health-care access for poor people.

?e’re spending a lot of tax dollars to do this and I want to make sure that the dollars are spent well,?Scott said at an appearance Wednesday afternoon at the Capitol. ?re we getting return for those dollars? Is it helping us with reducing the costs of health care??

Business groups immediately praised Scott? action. Scott appointed Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch, an independent group that looks for ways to save money, to chair the commission.

But the panel will discover that public hospitals tend to provide good value, said Tony Carvalho, president of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, a group that includes public and non-profit teaching hospitals.

They have to, he said, because they are required to prove their worth each year to elected officials or to the taxpayers directly.

? certainly welcome any review of their operations and efficiencies ond the benefit their communities receive,?he said.

The order immediately brings to mind financially ailing Jackson Memorial, the nation? third largest public hospital. But a search on the Florida Hospital Association web site indicates there are 33 publicly owned hospitals in the state, not counting the VA and state-owned institutions.

And they don? look much alike.

?o two of them are the same,?said Linda Quick, president of the South Florida Hospital and Healthcare Association. ?o come up with a position that would apply to all of them is going to be difficult if not impossible.?

Some are owned by county or city governments, while others are operated by independent elected bodies that have taxing authority ?special hospital districts.

Some public hospitals ?notably Lee Memorial Health System in southwest Florida ?don? even get local tax revenue, while some taxing districts distribute money to hospitals without owning or operating them. Continue reading this story from Carol Gentry here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.