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State lawmaker wants to eliminate Lake hospital district

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Rep. Larry Metz (R) Eustis

By Lynn Hatter

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-992808.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Some property owners are being double-taxed for healthcare. That tax comes from several hospital districts set up across the state. Now as Lynn Hatter reports, one lawmaker wants to get rid of at least one of them, in Lake County.

The North Lake Hospital District has been generating about 10-million dollars a year to support three private non-profit hospitals. The hospitals don't have to account for how they spend that money. But Republican State Representative Larry Metz wants that to change. He says voters should have the right to decide if they want to be taxed.

"I have to look at the bigger picture at what the taxpayers deserve. They don't deserve an entitled system with no accountability or transparency. It needs to be a well-defined public purpose not dedicated to named corporations but rather to the purpose, which is the indigent care piece."

Metz' proposal would eliminate the North Lake County Hospital District and ask voters if they'd like to replace it with another entity to raise a property tax only for indigent care. The money would be split between multiple providers that treat low-income, uninsured patients.