Monday, May 21, 2018
Health

Florida Supreme Court won't hear trauma center dispute

The Florida Supreme Court this week declined to hear an appeal from the HCA health-care chain amid broader legal and political battles about the continued operation of trauma centers at some HCA hospitals.

In a brief order, justices said they would not review a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that helped hospitals in the Tampa Bay and Jacksonville areas continue challenging the HCA trauma centers.

The Florida Department of Health, along with HCA, contended that Tampa General Hospital, St. Joseph's Hospital, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg and UF Health Jacksonville did not have legal "standing" to challenge state approvals of the HCA trauma centers. But the 1st District Court of Appeal in September rejected that position, prompting HCA to seek a review in the Supreme Court.

The decision is part of a web of legal and legislative wrangling that primarily focuses on whether HCA-affiliated trauma centers at Blake Medical Center in Manatee County, Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Pasco County and Ocala Regional Medical Center in Marion County may continue operating.

The Supreme Court case also involved HCA's Orange Park Medical Center, which in 2011 opened a trauma center but was later required to close it. The ongoing disputes stem, at least in part, from rulings that the Department of Health used an invalid rule in approving the HCA trauma centers.

Lawmakers are considering bills that would ensure the continued operation of the Manatee, Pasco and Marion centers.

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