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Lawsuit Challenges Central Health Spending

 Lawsuit Challenges Central Health Spending

Plaintiffs argue it is not legal to give $35 million
a year to the UT Austin Dell Medical School

by Ken Martin
© The Austin Bulldog 2017
Part 4 in a Series
Posted Wednesday October 18, 2017 9:58am
Updated Wednesday October 18, 2017 10:44am (to add Central Health’s Statement)
Updated Wednesday October 18, 2017 3:04pm to add press conference photo

Attorney Fred Lewis, backed by a dozen supporters, faces cameras and reporters for an October 18 press conference about the lawsuit to challenge Central Health’s spending.Three Travis County taxpayers filed a lawsuit this morning against the Travis County Healthcare District, dba Central Heath, and its president and CEO Mike Geeslin, complaining that property tax funds are being used for purposes not authorized by the Texas Constitution and state statutes.

If successful the litigation’s biggest impact would be to force Central Health, through its nonprofit Community Care Collaborative, to stop giving $35 million a year to the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. That would make vastly more funds available to provide direct healthcare services available for indigent, uninsured, and underinsured residents of Travis County.

Under an Affiliation Agreement, that yearly allocation has already yielded $105 million for the medical school through FY 2017 and the $35 million annual payments are scheduled continue in perpetuity. Stopping that flow of money would undermine the financial foundation upon which the medical school was built. In June 2012 the UT Board of Regents committed $25 million a year to operate the medical school and $5 million a year for eight years to equip laboratories, but made those funds contingent upon the community providing $35 million a year. Otherwise there would be no medical school.

The lawsuit petition tackles that premise head on: “The issue in this case is not whether it would be cool or wonderful to have a medical school in Austin (or whether defendants consider other goals cool or wonderful). This suit is necessary because defendants are not complying with Texas law and are expending funds on items unrelated to its statutory authorization of providing health care to our poor and vulnerable residents.”