West Volusia Hospital Authority fails to pay Medicaid share.
Written by Anthony Bicy
Belden Communications News
The Volusia County Council unanimously voted to pursue legal action requiring the West Volusia Hospital Authority, which failed to pay its Medicaid financial responsibility as determined by the County Council. The county’s legal team filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus with the Seventh Judicial Circuit on February 22. Today, a Volusia County Court ordered WVHA to respond to the county’s lawsuit. A mandamus is a court order to perform a public or statutory duty.
Approximately 19% of Volusia County residents participate in Medicaid coverage, and the State of Florida charges counties an annual contribution to recoup a portion of the state Medicaid expenditures.
“I am astonished that the WVHA board members would pursue such an irresponsible course of action,” said At-Large County Council Member Ben Johnson. “They’ve shirked their long-established responsibility to all those hard-working, tax-paying folks in Deltona, Orange City, DeBary, and DeLand who have relied on these services for years and years.”
Comprised of three hospital districts in Volusia County, these districts provide access to health care for their residents on Medicaid, health care providers who treat Medicaid patients and have historically funded their share of the Medicaid financial responsibility.
“I too am alarmed by the impact to my residents who will have to bear the burden of WVHA’s action,” said District 2 County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler.
According to the complaint, “Despite taxing its citizens and acknowledging its Medicaid financial responsibility in its budget, WVHA refuses to honor the statutory mandate that it must furnish its share to the county.”
The County Council determined the allocation of the annual Medicaid bill at its November 16 meeting.
The Hospital Authority disagrees with the council’s division of Medicaid responsibility, being it does not own a hospital and, therefore, does not directly receive Medicaid payments.
The Authority’s attorney says they will not pay any of the 2021/22 Medicaid contributions and will not appeal to the Florida Department of Financial Services. WVHA argues the Medicaid responsibility should be divided only between the taxpayers in the other districts, which would result in the taxpayers from those districts carrying WVHA’s Medicaid obligation and the West Volusia Hospital Authority taxpayers continuing to utilize Medicaid as they always have.
“This isn’t about not owning a hospital,” said District 1 County Councilwoman Barbara Girtman, a former WVHA board member. “The mission and intention of the WVHA is to provide access to health care for our West Volusia residents in need of health care, and that care stretches beyond the hospital. I hope WVHA reconsiders its decision.”