Thursday, December 8th, 2011 at 10:04am

It Needs to Be an Either-Or-Vote

Posted by admin

Representative Larry Metz and his Marilyn Bainter anti-hospital group harp that the people of Lake County should be given an opportunity to vote on the North Lake Hospital Taxing District – even though it was properly approved years ago, and each election cycle, board members are elected.  Do they really mean that?  In the Rep-Metz-and-Bainter-voting world, the choice would be either Rep. Metz’s new Hospital Taxing District Bill or total elimination of the taxing district; however, that is not a fair vote. It offers no real choice.  In fact, by only allowing the vote for Rep. Metz’s new bill or total elimination, the tens of thousands of people who like the system just the way it is are left out of the voting process.  In essence, Rep. Metz and Bainter rigged the vote so, no matter what, they win.

Let us be clear, the new Rep. Metz bill – which eliminates local funding for seniors, the poor, and Medicaid recipients – should be killed in the Florida legislature and never see the light of day.  Rep. Metz’s reckless legislation sets a new standard for implementing taxes in Lake County and Florida that would require approval via voter referendum. Why have representative government if they can’t make decisions on taxes?  Whether you agree with the issue or not, this is bad legislation.

If Rep. Metz and Bainter continue their war on the poor and seniors to eliminate local Medicaid funding in Lake County, and the issue is put forward to the voters, there should be more than two choices. We call it an either-or-vote.  A voter should be permitted to either vote for the Rep. Metz proposal, which includes district elimination, or keep it just like it is.  If voters are truly given a choice, most will say they like their hospital, and they want to keep them servicing the community.

The overwhelming sentiment our group receives on this issue is that working people want Rep. Metz and Bainter to leave their hospitals alone. The way we read the tea leaves is that many will not vote to change the process.

We hope this bad Rep. Metz bill will die in the legislature, but if it doesn’t, the voters should have an opportunity to vote to retain the current North Lake Hospital Taxing District and millage rate.  If there is going to be a vote, put all the choices on the ballot.

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6 Responses to “It Needs to Be an Either-Or-Vote”

  1. If ever, God forbid, you find yourself in need of medical attention in our fair county just tell the ambulance driver to take you to a “Private Tax Exempt Corporation”. I’m sure there will be no confusion.

  2. No name, I’ll be brief.
    1- Lets get one thing straight, we are being euphemistic when we use the term hospital, we are actually talking about Private Tax Exempt Corporations. These corporations, in order to be not-for -profit are required, by law to reinvest any profit they make into the corporation. They are not reinvesting it out of the goodness of there hearts, it’s the law.
    Revenues in excess of expenditures = profit. If you disagree look up the word profit in any dictionary.
    “Lake County tax dollars are being spent in Sumter County. They are not.” Prove it. Under the present legislation the hospital can use our money any way they want, they don’t have to furnish proof of where they spend it or even if they use it for the poor.
    2- “How many dollars do you think are spent on the poor in our county? I submit they are far in excess to the amount of tax monies received.” That is exactly why these Private Tax Exempt Corporations are excused from paying property tax, sales tax state taxes, federal taxes. They are expected to use those millions of dollars each year for health care of the poor. But they bully the taxpayers of Lake into being doubly taxed for Medicaid and Medicare by subsidizing those insurance programs which we were already taxed for when paying other taxes, through our property tax money.
    The egregiously large salaries are just icing on the cake when discussing whether or not the hospitals really need our tax dollars. The salaries just confirm these Private Tax Exempt Corporations are in existence for one thing only and it’s not altruistic.
    “Finally I am not against an up or down vote on taxes.” Good for you, but I think you’ll find the hospitals are totally against this idea. They already spent the better part of a million dollars to deprive the voters of Lake their chance to vote on this special tax.

  3. I have only a short response.

    1.) Your favorite targets are “non-profits” and thus have no profits as you allege. They have revenues in excess of expenditures, which as good and faithful community servants they pour back into healthcare here in Lake County. No matter how many times it is explained to you, you seem to insist that Lake County tax dollars are being spent in Sumter County. They are not.

    2.) How many dollars do you think are spent on the poor in our county? I submit they are far in excess to the amount of tax monies received. That is what the financials show. And if the indigent costs are far in excess of the tax revenues, where does the slush fund to build hospitals in Sumter County come from? Certainly not from taxes.

    Now you may believe it wrong that benefits to the indigent are being lavished on folks who make more than $16,800 at year, and that is your right. You have an absolute right to promote a vision of Lake County as as big a skinflint with your tax money as your heart desires. If that is your vision go promote it. But you always clog the airwaves with extraneous theories about financial collusion with Sumter County, and specious allegations of executive compensation of hospital executives. Yes I heard that a large number was found on a form 990, but I also heard it was caused by a government required recognition of all of the gentleman’s lifetime retirement income in that one year. But you and the anti-hospital crowd cite the higher figure as gospel whenever you can.

    The man at the center of your little conspiracy theory said corporate policy was that his income could not be above the 50th percentile of similar hospital executives across the state, and that it wasn’t. I take him at his word. By the way, that hospital (Waterman) got recognized for being in the top ten percent across the state for cost efficiency for patient treatment. Hardly what one might expect if they were as profligate in salaries as you always allege.

    Finally I am not against an up or down vote on taxes. But let’s put them all on the ballot, and not just single out the ones that affect the poor. To single out the one tax that aids the poor is unseemly. And in this economy any tax on the ballot is guaranteed to fail. But stick ’em all on the ballot and let’s see what happens. No sense in screwing up Lake County only for the poor, let’s screw it up for all of us. (Besides, I agree taxes are too damn high.)

  4. Dear person who has no name:
    You must be the disciple of he who writers of this blog. No one else could be so blind as to accept that which is written in the RSOL to be gospel. Your characterization of what I write as an ad hominem attack leads me to think you don’t really know what the term means but that’s besides the point.
    So lets get to the point:
    1- The diverse group that you refer to as an ad hominem attack group that shows up at every North Lake Hospital Tax Board or legislative meeting are the dreaded citizens of this county. They’re only dreaded by the hospitals and their paid supporters. I say paid because, face it, 99% of the people who show up to support the hospital view are, in some way, financially dependent on the hospital, that includes Ro-Mac. It’s beneficial to their bottom line. Again I must stress that no one is anti-hospital. The group you refer to as such is in fact anti-corporate welfare. You know what that is don’t you? It’s the financial assistance, as tax breaks or subsidies( our hospital tax dollars), given to profit-making companies such as the hospitals. Yes profit- making like our hospitals,ie. Combined yearly profit of Waterman and LRMC, 2007- $12,697,745, 2008- $16,459,740, 2009- $18,425,558. the profit in 2009 was actually made by Waterman, LRMC showed a loss of $476,862. Could that be because of LRMCs’ investment of $65 million in the Village Hospital, which by the way is in Sumter county? Great way to use our Lake county tax dollars.
    2- I gather from your comments that you think either Ken Mattison or Senator Hays idea of who should get assistance makes more sense than Rep. Metz. Your saying that, as Mr. Mattison states, the property tax payers of this county should be responsible for subsidizing health care for a single person who has a yearly income of over $20,000 or the Senators brilliant idea of subsidizing a single person who makes over $43,000 dollars a year. If they got their way Mr. Mattison would be subsidizing a family of four who has a yearly income of over $30,000 and the senator would be subsidizing the same family who has a yearly income of $90,000.
    3- I see by that you would not be in favor of an up or down vote on this issue. That’s right in line with the hospitals and their propaganda. Do the hospitals really need our money or do they just want it? All the facts point to the latter. They make a good profit each year, they pay no taxes, they overcharge patients who can pay to cover the cost of providing care for the poor. Consider how much sales tax they are excused from paying each year, that’s on everything from a roll of toilet paper to million dollar surgical equipment, this savings alone would amount to millions of dollars they don’t have to pay each year and that’s only the savings of sales tax, they’re also exempt from paying state corporate tax, local property tax, federal income tax. This is the money they should be care for the poor with, I wonder were it goes, maybe into those million dollar salaries.
    4- This comment really provides a chuckle. I wonder what the other 57 counties in Florida which don’t have a special hospital tax do with their poor? Never saw any sick and dieing poor in those counties streets, but you predict we would see the sick and dieing poor in Lake streets if the hospital tax was discontinued. Saying something like that is nothing but irresponsible fear mongering.
    Irresponsible fear mongering is also an apt description of last paragraph you write and as to who started the law suit the answer is obvious, the actions of the hospitals cause the suit. It was filed in response to the hospitals total lack of transparency as to just how they use our tax dollars. Their practice of putting it into a general fund with all their other money in order to do with it what they want is not spending it on the poor.

  5. I love the ad hominem attacks to which Mr. Riker always seems to resort. “opinions … you must know are completely disingenuous … uninformed and lacking any factual basis for your conclusions”

    Imagine we could have had this level of discourse in hospital district meetings, except for the good sense of a majority of voters.

    1.) In my humble opinion (which I may suggest is shared by many), yes there is an anti-hospital group at work here. They are at almost every NLCHD meeting and they post scathing ad hominem attacks here whenever their peculiar views are contravened. Just go back and reread all the hospital district columns and the follow up posts if anyone wants proof. And Mr. Riker, didn’t you run on a platform of just saying no to the hospitals, without regard to what might have been presented to the hospital district board? That doesn’t strike me as a reasoned judgment, it looks and sounds like anti-hospital rhetoric to me.

    2.) Yes there are people against the poor and indigent mixed up in the anti-hospital crowd. They testify about “them” clogging up the emergency rooms and they always stress how they (the good people) pay their own bills. The Metz bill will guarantee that only the Calcutta-level poor will have access to medical care in Lake County. A family of four making more than $1,400 a month is too rich to be considered indigent – and eligible for indigent care – in Mr. Riker’s new world order. I hope someone will at least set up a fund for bus fare for them to less scrooge-like counties where our working poor can find healthcare relief.

    3.) Yes, the current legislation does not require “our tax dollars go to care for the poor and indigent” so Mr. Riker is correct on that one. But our tax dollars – and many millions more — do go for “care for the poor and indigent” – a fact Mr. Riker seems unwilling to acknowledge. But if you are an anti-hospital kind of person (is that ad hominem?) who cares about how much is actually spent on the indigent: the point is the legislation doesn’t say it has to be. Let them eat cake!

    4.) I assume this one is a typo: “We the tax payers of Lake should be responsible to make up the difference between what the government reimburses for Medicaid and Medicare and what the hospitals claim it cost them,” because I kind of agree. But assuming the fountain of knowledge of all things anti-hospital made a typo and meant to say “should not be” let me state for the record that Medicaid is a state program for the indigent. These aren’t folks with $60K+ incomes who can be asked to make up the difference between what the state reimburses and what it costs. They are poor by definition. And even if you think them the state’s responsibility, they will end up homeless and sick on our streets (unless you plan to bus them to Tallahassee). News flash: these are your neighbors. It is gonna get a little tacky if they just hang around 441 waiting to die under your plan because they made more than $1400 a month.

    You were quick to toss around the tag “100% wrong” at Mr. Magruder, but my scorecard reads maybe 15% right on your four facts (I gave you partial credit on number 3, but as noted above you always conveniently leave out what they actually spend on the indigent).

    Also, while it is true that huge amounts have been spent on what appears to be frivolous lawsuits, who started that mess? I don’t think it was the hospitals. Was it maybe… some anti-hospital group…?

    And finally, I will offer an opinion on the law of unintended consequences. If you are capable of paying for your own healthcare needs, your costs are getting ready to go up significantly. Unlike Orange County where 50% of the patients help subsidize the indigent (it is a hidden tax which I am sure being so knowledgeable about hospitals you already knew); here in Lake County we have less than 20% of private paying patients to shoulder that burden. You won’t see that tax increase until you go to the hospital or when your insurance premiums start to rise. Perhaps then you will long for the good old days of a $6 a month hospital tax. But maybe not. As for the working poor, perhaps they will turn to a life of crime so the county will have to pay for their medical care while they are incarcerated. Just a thought.

  6. My immediate thought after listening to your interview on the Lake County Roundtable with host Ralph Smith is you’re noticeably more courageous in denigrating those who disagree with your hospital tax position when you’re not actually facing a live person. My second observation was that you have no compunction offering you’re opinions which you must know are completely disingenuous and, as you’re other posts have shown, uninformed and lacking any factual basis for your conclusions.
    I thought Ralphs’ interview was handled in a very gentlemanly manner and he was more than generous asking you to return sometime in the future. By all rights he could have criticized and contradicted you on almost everything you said but it was more fun listening to you demonstrate, once again, your total lack of knowledge and blind adherence to the hospital corporate propaganda.
    Your many misstatements and exaggerations while on the surface being laughable represented the danger someone can be with a computer and a blog to the community while masquerading as a concerned conservative. The duplicity you try to pass off as truths are many:
    1.There is an anti-hospital group at work here.
    Absolutely no one is anti-hospital. There are those who are against the corporate welfare which the tax dollars that go to the hospitals represent.
    2.There are people that are against the poor and indigent.
    The Metz bill will Guarantee our tax dollars are used to provide health care to the poor and indigent.
    3.The present legislation requires our tax dollars go to care for the poor and indigent.
    Absolutely 100% Wrong. The present legislation states the hospitals can use our tax dollars to pay for any “ongoing hospital expenses” That means they can spend it on anything they want to spend it on and yes they can even buy pink flamingos.
    4.We the tax payers of Lake should be responsible to make up the difference between what the government reimburses for Medicaid and Medicare and what the hospitals claim it cost them.
    That’s a problem the hospital should take up with the government and not bully the
    taxpayers of Lake into paying.
    I could go on and on but I think this gives anyone reading this a pretty good idea of the total lack of knowledge you demonstrate.
    The hospitals have spent the better part of a million dollars to deprive the taxpayers of Lake their right to vote on this issue. If they had genuine concern for the people of this county they would have spent the money on the people who need health care instead of against the people of Lake. These hospital make a huge profit each year but still they want their pound of flesh from Lake taxpayers and now they’ll stop at nothing to make sure that gravy train does not stop.

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