Letters to the Editor

Credit taxpayers for paying for Manatee County indigent care

Manatee County's Cheri Coryea writes down ideas from the Manatee Healthcare Advisory Board during July's breakthrough meeting in the administration building. As indicated on Coryea's sheet, the board came up with a proposal for a new criteria for indigent health care eligibility, which is 100 percent or below the federal poverty level.
Manatee County's Cheri Coryea writes down ideas from the Manatee Healthcare Advisory Board during July's breakthrough meeting in the administration building. As indicated on Coryea's sheet, the board came up with a proposal for a new criteria for indigent health care eligibility, which is 100 percent or below the federal poverty level. rdymond@bradenton.com

Hats off to Bradenton Herald for the editorial on the health care study commissioned by Manatee County. This keen observation, that the study was a profound collection of the already known, should convince the county it cannot study its way out of the problem.

The editorial fell short when issuing kudos to Manatee Memorial Hospital for the free and low-cost care it has provided. History suggests the taxpayer is the one who deserves the kudos. This started with public funds to help build the hospital, all the Medicare and Medicaid funding which makes these programs the hospital’s No. 1 customer, and tens of millions of county dollars for free care over the years. Additionally, the state has offered substantial funds for low-income area hospitals: All taxpayer money.

Not begrudging a for-profit hospital an opportunity to make a profit, this is no place for greed. The county erred when it allowed the hospital to offer block statistics of red-ink to justify use of the block grant funds the county gives to MMH. This creative accounting model should be replaced with a method that allows for clear tracking of services for dollars which the county pays.

On Aug. 24, Manatee Memorial Hospital issued a report of its “County Funding Shortfall” to the Healthcare Advisory Board. The hospital claims $13.3 million in total cost of care and $3.5 million in county funding with a $9.7 million shortfall for 2016; it did not include the $8 million from the state. This makes for an estimated $1.7 million shortfall for the year.

Should the hospital share responsibility for a portion of this shortfall?

The hospital controls the ball and what constitutes “total cost care” and may not see it is a good private enterprise gesture to give back to its best customer.

Leon O’Connor MPH

Bradenton

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