St. David's Health Care Partnership, Austin, Texas, is likely to seek public subsidies for indigent care from a newly created hospital district, St. David's spokesman Preston Gee said. Six-hospital St. David's, a joint venture between not-for-profit St. David's Health Care System and for-profit HCA, recently won a lengthy battle with the IRS over its tax exemption, partly by demonstrating that it provided a sizable amount of uncompensated and charity care. The system provided more than $120 million in uncompensated care in 2003, Gee said. "We're hoping that this is an educational effort and a good catalyst for freeing up funds down the road to help shoulder the burden of providing charity care," Gee said of the new hospital district.
The Travis County Hospital District, created by a May 15 voter referendum, will merge the existing public health delivery systems of Austin and the county. A board for the district may be in place by August, but the district won't collect taxes until 2006, said David Hilgers, an Austin attorney who is involved in the planning. It is expected to raise about $70 million annually through property taxes, Hilgers said. Besides St. David's, likely recipients include public Brackenridge Hospital, several community health centers and Seton Medical Center, which manages Brackenridge. -- by Mark Taylor