Tavares, FL - Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012
Last week, on Sept. 13, the first of two required Board meetings were held for the North Lake County Hospital District to discuss and approve their budget and millage rates. We wrote a posting on Sept. 12, the day before that meeting listing weaknesses in their plans and website.
The Board is in the middle of also creating the administrative process to implement Florida legislation HB-1299 which was passed earlier this year to improve oversight and accountability over the approximate $8-million in property taxes they a receive. One feature of HB-1299 was to remove NAMES of any specific providers to receive the funds in order to establish an approval process for lower cost clinics to provide indigent care to residents in the District. This was in contrast to the previous 30+ years when three specific hospitals received an allocation of all available funds without any cost constraints or oversight or spending rules.
In the two prior meetings to Sept 13, the Board Chair, Ken Carpenter, refused to allow any public input, while they let staff from the three local hospitals provide lots of input and written documents and speakers on how to spend the funds and give most of them again to the three hospitals.
Tonight, the Orlando Sentinel published an article about the Sept. 13 meeting:
The District website lacks ANY contact information to reach the Board members or accountant or attorney, but here it is:
The above website contains the details on the second required public meeting on Sept. 25th, when the Board will approve the budget (which still will split 95% of the funds between the three hospitals without seeking competitive, lower cost providers. However, since I expect the Hospital influenced Board to continue to subvert the intent of HB-1299, no public input will alter their decisions, so don't waste your time going there.
Here are the comments I wrote to expand on the Sept. 18th Orlando Sentinel article, which was pretty accurate:
Many people worked hard to pass reform legislation over the North Lake County Hospital District, and it was passed earlier this year. However, four of the six Board members support only the Hospitals continued receipt of taxfunds, even though, as this article said, they are more costly. One objective of the legislation was to REMOVE naming any specific recipients like the two hospitals and setup a method to get lower cost clinics to be approved to provide the services. However, the Chair, Ken Carpenter, prohibited public input at the two meetings previous to this last one, and pushed through policies to award 90% of the funds only to the two hospitals, plus another 5% for Lifestream without having to compete in prices for services. If they were private firms agreeing to allocate specific percentages of a business market using non-competitive prices, it would be considered an anti-trust violation (in my opinion), but since they are a government agency, they can get away with it. So, they are subverting the intent of the legislation and restricting 95% of the entire $8-million for the two major hospitals and Lifestream (gets 5%). Remember the Board members names and ask them why they won't advertise for, or select lower cost clinics: Ken Carpenter, Jerry Brown, Bob Bone & Roger Beyers. As a former Certified Fraud Examiner, this Board stinks.