Manatee County to consider ordinance calling for sales tax hike vote for indigent health care




Manatee County commissioners voted 5-2 Thursday, to consider an ordinance calling for a referendum asking the public to OK a half-cent sales tax increase to pay for indigent health care.

Vanessa Baugh, District 5 commissioner, and Betsy Benac, at-large commissioner, voted against the motion, citing insufficient information and poor timing.

The commission will consider the ordinance at its March 12 meeting, when it will also receive a written plan from the Manatee County Health Care Alliance and county staff about how to best dedicate resources to health care’s rising costs.

The alliance has worked with health-care providers and public-health professionals at the University of South Florida over the last 15 months during six workshops, many of whom presented their findings at Thursday’s special meeting.

Money raised from the sales-tax increase would help address a shortage of primary-care providers to help preventive care become more available to more people, presenters said.

The focus on preventive care would decrease inappropriate emergency room visits and preventable hospitalizations, two types of costly care that Manatee County is too dependent upon.

The health-care funding talk comes as a $40 million funding source for indigent health care — most of which came from the sale of Manatee Memorial Hospital, then called Manatee Veterans Memorial Hospital, to a private business — will soon dry up.

Karen Windon, deputy county administrator, says the account will be depleted by 2015.

At the special meeting, several commissioners said they were skeptical of the proposal because it did not include a detailed, written plan to solve problems that the uninsured and the underinsured bring to local medical facilities.

See the agenda for the special meeting here.


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Currently 1 Response

  • 1.
  • This story is a bit vague. What is the definition of "indigent health care?" How do you verify that illegal immigrants are not taking advantage of this. Seems to me that companies like Tropicana and Orange growers would love something like this where our tax money will pay for health care for the illegal worker. Folks, you can paint it any way you like, but its coming. Our government will eventually pay for free healthcare to illegals, and there is NOTHING you can do about it.
  • Alex Smith
    Sun 3rd Mar 2013
    at 8:12am
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