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Tanner Andrews

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Tanner Andrews

They say that stupidity is the second-most-common element in the universe. Before you ask: Hydrogen is first.

Despite being rare on planets, helium comes in a close third. Due to its antisocial nature, or some would say nobility, helium does not mix well with others.

Still, we do not need any more stupidity. The County Council already has plenty. They just voted to sue the West Volusia Hospital Authority.

Their theory is that West Volusia taxpayers should help Halifax Health with its Medicaid profits. Essentially, West Volusia taxpayers should load a pickup truck with money each month. The County will drive it over to Halifax Health and unload.

OK, that might make for some good parties in the management suite at Halifax Health. But it is hard to see how West Volusia taxpayers will benefit.

Some background: Medicaid pays hospitals to care for some of the very poor. The federal government gives money to the states, which pass it along to hospitals. Each state is also expected to contribute a little.

Florida is disinclined to contribute. In Tallahassee, they hope the sick poor will hurry up and die. There are plenty of others to fill the tourist jobs.

Federal law being supreme, Florida does the next best thing to avoid contributing. It passes the cost down by assessing the counties.

Counties may, in turn, pass it down to health care districts that benefit from Medicaid. Halifax Health, for instance, reports a profit of nearly $40 million from Medicaid.

However, the West Volusia Authority has no hospital, and receives no Medicaid money at all. Instead, it works to keep people out of hospitals. It treats problems before they become worse and more expensive.

That reduces the spread of disease, improving our community health. But it draws no Medicaid money, so authority taxpayers are not liable for Medicaid contributions.

The county should apportion costs among those who benefit. Instead, they would litigate a reverse Robin Hood arrangement. Those receiving no money get robbed, and those who receive money get more.

Not a smart plan, but stupidity is the second-most-common element in the universe.

The trucks carrying money east can haul more stupidity back for the County Council. It mixes well there. Better than helium, which tells us what the County Council is thinking — east and west do not mix generally, but West Volusia money works fine in the east.

— Andrews is a DeLand-area attorney and a longtime government critic. For purposes of the column, he finds it convenient that there is so much government to criticize.


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