3 southeast Travis County residents file suit against Central Health Oct. 18

Central Health is set to begin operating four new service offerings in eastern Travis County in 2019 and 2020.

Central Health is set to begin operating four new service offerings in eastern Travis County in 2019 and 2020.

Image description
Central Health
Image description
Dell Medical School and Central Health outline expenses in Community Report
Image description
Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 11.28.54 AM
Three Southeast Travis County residents filed a lawsuit against Central Health on Wednesday claiming misuse of public funds that should be used to provide health care to the poor.

Fred Lewis, an attorney assisting on the case, said the key issue is Central Health is spending taxpayer money on items unrelated to the district’s mission, which is providing health care to the poor.

Lewis said he found that The University of Texas Dell Medical School received $105 million from Central Health, and $3 million went toward health care. Expenditures funding services in Bastrop County and donations to the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce were also found, Lewis said.

Regarding Central Health’s allocation of tax dollars to Dell Medical School, a news release issued by Central Health regarding the lawsuit stated: “We are confident Central Health’s investment in Dell Medical School at The University of Texas is legal and appropriate.”

In an effort to increase transparency, Central Health and Dell Medical School collaborated on a community report analyzing the impact of their partnership on the community at large. According to Central Health’s release, Central Health saw a 6 percent increase in the number of people served in the county from 2015 to 2016, with a total of 143,642 Travis County residents with low income served in 2016.

Richard Franklin III, one of the plaintiffs in the case and a resident of Del Valle, said the plaintiffs are looking for Central Health to be transparent and accountable with how it is spending taxpayer money. He said the plaintiffs are also hoping to get more services to the Del Valle area.

A representative from Central Health responded to these complaints by stating Central Health is in the planning process of increasing clinical presence in the area. This includes communicating with residents and analyzing data regarding patient population needs.

One proposed solution includes opening a clinic in a shared space in Del Valle two to three days a week and then following it with a permanent clinic in its own space.

Central Health will discuss possible solutions at the board of managers meeting Oct. 25.

According to a recent press release, the plaintiffs—Rebecca Birch, Franklin and Esther Govea—are seeking a declaratory judgment in Travis County State District Court that Central Health must spend its funds exclusively on health care for the poor.

They also seek to prevent Central Health from spending funds on economic development, medical education, non-health care activities or health care for residents who are not poor.

“We have asked repeatedly for Central Health to spend its tax dollars according to the law on behalf of health care for our county’s many poor,” Birch said. “Neither Central Health’s board nor the Travis County commissioners, who are its financial overseers, have listened. This lawsuit is our last option.”

Dr. Clay Johnston, dean of Dell Medical School, responded with an official statement saying: “We agree with Central Health that our partnership is legal and appropriate, and we look forward to continuing that work to serve all of Travis County and deliver on the vision the taxpayers support.”

The statement also detailed the recent opening of Dell Medical School’s UT Health Austin clinics that focus on specialty care for Travis County residents.

According to the release from Central Health, there are approximately 300 medical residents working in Travis County hospitals and clinics that serve people with low income.

Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said in a statement released Wednesday the Commissioners Court’s primary responsibility regarding Central Health is to serve as a fiscal watch dog. She said the court would continue its search and demand for honesty and accountability when Central Health makes investments.

“Our community remains divided on the legal question of funding a medical school with property tax dollars as a means of supporting that mission,” Eckhardt said. “I have said for some time that the legal questions need to be settled, with some finality, and that the best and only forum for doing that is in a court of law. In this respect, I welcome this suit and pray for a speedy resolution.”


MOST RECENT

Trustee Lynn Boswell speaks at an Oct. 14 information session of the Austin ISD board of trustees. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin ISD seeks firm to help redistricting process

As districts within AISD are redrawn, the board of trustees will get legal assistance from a firm it has not yet chosen.

The amended version of the planned development unit will now go to the Austin Planning Commission for review. (Rendering courtesy Austin Environmental Commission)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Austin commission OKs development plan near Lady Bird Lake; shopping center coming to Porter and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 15.

Early voting starts Oct. 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Travis County early voting begins Oct. 18

There are 27 polling locations throughout the county.

A dash cam still shows flooding on Brandt Road after rain. (Courtesy Jon Iken)
South Austin affordable apartment complex moves forward despite neighbors' concerns

Neighbors worry about road safety and flooding, but City Council says there will be mitigation for those issues.

City Council voted to approve the first reading of a rezoning request, with Council Member Vanessa Fuentes adding directions. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact)
City Council approves South Austin affordable housing development with caveats

Council members say developers should add more affordable units to their apartment complex plan near Beacon Ridge.

The Smoking Joint is now open under the umbrella of Click Click Chew virtual food hall in Cypress. (Courtesy Kirsten Gilliam)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: More restaurant, retail space could be coming to north Frisco development; Locatelli’s owners launch virtual food hall in Cypress, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 14.

Photo of a child receiving a shot
Austin Public Health prepares for possible expansion of COVID-19 vaccine to younger kids

The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to consider authorizing Pfizer's vaccine for use in children ages 5-11 later this month.

A rendering is shown of a flexible space inside Panther Creek High School, which includes learning stairs and a collaboration board. The school's attendance zones are drawn to pull from Lone Star and Memorial high schools. (Courtesy Corgan)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Frisco ISD proposes attendance zone modifications; concerns are voiced over Grogan's Mill Village Center vacancies, plus more top stories

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 13.

City Council heard the results of Austin's first-ever quality of life report for the city's LGBTQ community Oct. 12. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Study: Safety, health, housing remain top concerns of Austin's 'vibrant' LGBTQ community

City Council heard a briefing on the first-ever quality-of-life survey of the Austin-area LGBTQ community Oct. 12.

Grand Donuts is opening soon in Georgetown. (Brittany Andes/Community Impact Newspaper)
Grand Donuts coming to Georgetown; new businesses open in Central Austin and more area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Passengers wait in a security checkpoint line at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The three existing checkpoints would receive machine upgrades but would remain largely unchanged. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin-Bergstrom International Airport moves one step closer to adding fourth security checkpoint at main terminal

The airport had its fourth busiest day ever on Oct. 8, which officials attribute in part to the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the University of Texas versus the University of Oklahoma football game.