Lakeland Chamber opts to continue indigent support

The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted recently to maintain a tiny but significant existing surtax to support continued indigent care via a Polk County health system for the next 25 years.


The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors voted recently to maintain a tiny but significant existing surtax to support continued indigent care via a Polk County health system for the next 25 years.

The Polk County HealthCare Plan addresses that common nationwide catch-22 — citizens who aren’t poor enough to receive Medicaid, but who cannot afford market prices for private health insurance.

“In order for our business community to thrive, we need to work to ensure we have the healthiest workforce possible,” Mike McGee, chairman of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, said. “Therefore, it is in the best interest of our business community to continue support of the Polk County HealthCare Plan as a means to improve the overall health and productivity of our community, allowing us to attract and retain a high-performing workforce, while minimizing health care costs.”

The actual tax amount comes to one-half cent, a small but surprisingly effective amount. With it, Polk County will be able to continue to serve its needier constituents without incurring extra out-of-pocket costs to individual patients.

The Polk Healthcare Plan is not technically an insurance plan, but rather a way for eligible patients to obtain health care. Its Indigent Health Care Division in Bartow networks with physicians and clinics to manage primary, specialty and urgent care for the medically poor; the surtax will continue to support a “ripple-effect of ‘wellness,’” the county health department said.

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