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How Will Federal Health Care Change $850M in Local Taxes Raised in Florida Health Care Districts?

With the passage of the new federal health care law, what will happen to the $850 million in taxes raised every year by local taxing districts around Florida to support care of the uninsured?

In Palm Beach County, the Health Care District has insurance coverage for the uninsured in Palm Beach County. Approximately 40 thousand residents are covered of a total population of 1.3 million.

The District’s Coordinated Care insurance program picks up where Medicaid leaves off, covering up to 150% of poverty ($16 thousand annual income for an individual). There are no deductibles or co-pays with this program. The District’s Vita Health shared-cost insurance program covers from 150% to 300% of poverty and the District pays for two-thirds of the premiums.

The budget for the Palm Beach County Health Care District is $260 million. They have more than 1,000 employees and 1,500 physician relationships.

Details:

• $155 million, or 60%, of the total budget is from property tax receipts. The millage rate is 1.14 mills with a maximum possible by law of 2.0 mills.

• 40% of the budget is from billing (Medicaid, Medicare, Co-Pays, and Deductibles].

Property owners in the Town of Palm Beach currently pay 6.26% of their property tax bills, or $14,555,449, in Fiscal Year 2010 to the County Health Care District. Those taxes are used for trauma care, school nurses, 5 pharmacies for the uninsured, Lakeside Medical Center (public hospital) in Belle Glade, the long-term care Edward J. Healey Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, and insurance for low-income county residents.

The resident of the town are the largest per capita contributors to property taxes in the county.

So the question is, how much will the Town of Palm Beach property taxes change because of the new federal health care law? Nobody knows yet but it will be interesting to see if the Health Care District lowers taxes or finds other uses for the money.

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