Hospital commission confused over which facilities should be examined

Jul 20, 2011

The following article was published in the Florida Current on July 20, 2011:

Hospital commission confused over which facilities should be examined

By Christine Jordan Sexton

A gubernatorial panel assembled to examine government operated and supported hospitals has met three times this summer. While members have received reams of information about patient days and Medicaid costs, there’s just one problem: commission members don’t know which hospitals to examine.

The problem lies in the executive order that created the commission. It was issued by Gov Rick Scott — who made his fortune running the for-profit hospital chain Columbia/HCA — and directs the commission to review “government operated” or “taxpayer funded” hospitals. Yet some of the largest Medicaid providing hospitals in the state — Jackson Memorial and Tampa General — may not fit either definition. 

The Commission on Review of Taxpayer Funded Hospital Districts Executive Director Jeff Gregg had asked for some clarification from the governor’s office earlier in the summer, but said on Wednesday he had not heard back from Scott’s office. 

“At some point pretty quickly we have to figure out we we are really looking at. What the purview of this commission really is,” said commission member and University of Florida professor Paul Duncan.

Meanwhile, Gregg received a polite but firm letter from Tampa General President and CEO Rony Hytoff who advised that the hospital doesn’t fall under the auspices of the commission’s review.  As part of the study, Gregg solicited information from the Hillsborough County Hospital Authority,  which leases Tampa General to Florida Health Sciences Center, a private not for profit corporation. 

“We wish you well in your endeavors,” Hytoff’s letter reads. “The next few months should be very interesting for you.”

There also have been questions surrounding Jackson Health System in Miami and whether it falls under the commission’s purview. But Gregg told the commission on Wednesday he expected to have information from the system for the commission’s next meeting in August. Jackson Memorial  receives more Medicaid dollars than any other facility in the state. It  isn’t supported by a special taxing district. Instead, it is supported by the Public Health Trust of Miami-Dade County, a unit of local government.

Commission member Marshall Kelly, a former Medicaid director and consultant at Health Management Associates, suggested since Jackson is so large it would be easy for the panel to develop two analyses, one that included the hospital and another that didn’t.

Rep. Matt Hudson, a Republican from Sarasota and a commission member, said “it is important we take a look at (Jackson).”

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