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Hospital future may be clear by late September


If anyone is placing bets on whether Cleveland Clinic’s takeover bid for Indian River Medical Center is going to be approved, the Hospital District’s upcoming budget meetings in late September may offer some big hints.

The Hospital District Board has tentatively scheduled its final vote on the deal for Oct. 3. At press time, the hospital’s Board of Directors has not scheduled its vote. Both boards must agree for the deal to go through.

But there should be some big tells about how the Hospital District vote will go only a couple of days after Cleveland’s proposal is revealed Sept. 25.

Sept. 25 is a Tuesday; the Cleveland presentation, which starts at 1 p.m. at the Richardson Center at Indian River State College’s Vero campus, is expected to take most of the afternoon.

Then, two days later, the District trustees will hold a morning roundtable discussion on the presentation at their offices across from the hospital. That same afternoon at 5 p.m. in the County Commission chambers, District trustees will finalize their 2018-2019 budget.

The Hospital District budget meeting had originally been scheduled for Sept. 20.

By postponing that vote, the District board will be able to decide on funding for indigent healthcare programs after having seen Cleveland Clinic’s proposed commitment for charity care at the hospital.

If trustees are happy with Cleveland Clinic’s offer and expect it to pass, they would logically approve a lower hospital indigent care figure, assuming Cleveland would begin covering at least some portion of that care when the deal closes.

If, on the other hand, trustees are not happy with Cleveland’s offer and plan to vote “no” to the partnership deal, they would likely budget for the usual amount for hospital indigent care – around $7.5 million.

The Hospital District levies taxes to treat medically indigent patients – those who are uninsured, not on Medicaid or Medicare and earn less than 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

If Cleveland assumes part or all of indigent care costs, as it appears very likely to do, then the District would be relieved of that burden, and taxes could go down.”