JACKSONVILLE, Fla.-- Action News has learned the city pays UF Health $23 million for indigent care.
It's one of the busiest hospitals in North Florida, but some of those patients are costing taxpayers millions. We found out the city pays out more than $23 million dollars a year to UF Health to treat indigent patients. City Council President Bill Gulliford told us the contract with the hospital started years ago and is something our city needs to do. "The amount addresses the reality of the situation," said Gulliford.
We found out at least one other councilman questioned whether the city had to pay out this money, especially when jobs, police officers and city services are being cut. We got our hands on an opinion from the city's general counsel office. The simple answer is yes. The city has to pay up. It's state law. But the opinion does say the amount allotted, "far exceeds the statutory requirements." "They'd argue why so much. They say they're having a hard time making it with what we're giving them," said Gulliford.
While the funding is there now, council members we asked couldn't say if they'd try to decrease it in the future. "The overriding question is, what do we do if UF Health one day says we don't want to be the county hospital anymore," said Gulliford.
A spokesman for UF Health tells us the amount the hospital receives from the city doesn't cover all of the costs. The only way the city could pay less, is with council's approval.