LCVOR Position on the North Lake Hospital District
Topic: The North Lake Hospital District and funding for indigent care in Lake County, Florida.
Issue: Proposed legislation (HB 257) has been filed that would eliminate the North Lake Hospital District and the medical care and mental health services provided by the District to Lake County’s poorest, uninsured citizens.
LCVOR’s Position: Lake County Voices of Reason opposes HB 257. We advocate for the continuance of The North Lake Hospital District and the good work that they do for the Lake County community.
- Established by the Florida Legislature, The North Lake County Hospital District has existed in some form for some 60 years.
- The Hospital District serves the poorest members of our community. The North Lake Hospital District’s work represents Lake County “taking care of its own” by helping our community neighbors who are in greatest need.
- A proposed bill (HB 257) filed by Rep. Sabatini (R-Howey-in-the-Hills) would end the long service of The North Lake County Hospital District Board and its funding to local mental health clinics, medical clinics and hospitals for indigent family care.
- According to figures from the United States Census Bureau (July 2019), more than 15% of Lake County residents under age 65 have no health insurance.
- The Hospital District currently collects a small tax of less than $1 for every $1,000 in real estate value, after exemptions. The money is spent locally for local folks in need.
- The Hospital District’s revenue is first allocated to six community health clinics to offset their expenses for treating families, single mothers and children who cannot pay. These clinics work on a bare budget. Any dollars left after funding the clinics go to our two hospitals in the district, with the dollars being used for the same indigent population.
- Without the funding from this local tax, those clinics would likely close, driving local indigent families to hospital emergency rooms, thereby impacting hospital services and costs. The unwise elimination of the Hospital District would likely prove short-sighted, but long-term expensive. Further, it would cause unnecessary and avoidable harm to those so much less fortunate living among us in Lake County.
- The Hospital District and its funds are administered by a board of directors elected by the voters of the District. All board meetings and budgets are transparent, open to the public and residents are welcome to attend meetings, ask questions and participate in the decision-making process
- The North Lake Hospital District is needed and wanted by the citizens of Lake County, Florida. In a 2016 referendum, 59% of Lake County voters approved the continuation of the Hospital District and its taxing authority for another 10 years. Rep. Sabatini’s proposed legislation (HB 257) ignores the views of his constituents — a view that they clearly expressed at the polls.
- With the COVID pandemic, a growing number of Lake County citizens have lost their jobs and their health insurance. It was not their fault. In this light, LCVOR opposes HB 257. LCVOR joins with a growing chorus in declaring that The North lake Hospital District is needed now — more than ever. LCVOR sees The District’s services as meeting a vital need to those Lake Countians among us who are experiencing great hardship. LCVOR sees continuation and support for The North Lake Hospital District as representative of the best of any community —the extending a much-needed hand to our neighbors and fellow Lake County citizens who are in distress and need.