Following weeks of deliberation, Travis County OKs amendments to Central Health’s financial policy

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Citing concerns over a lack of transparency in Central Health’s funding of the UT Dell Medical School, Travis County commissioners Margaret Gomez and Brigid Shea voted against a new set of financial policies for the county’s health care district.

The financial policy, which outlines the district’s responsibilities in maintaining the district’s financial records and transactions, was approved 3-2.

In September, a number of Travis County residents spoke out against the approval of Central Health’s fiscal year 2017-18 budget. The citizens commented on the lack of health care services in eastern Travis County and questioned the funding at the Dell Medical School.

Although the budget was approved 4-0, the financial policies were postponed in hopes of addressing the lack of transparency in a new version of policies.

One version of the policies included language that would have required written allocation procedures so that the funding could be tracked.

The adopted version, which was posted on the Travis County message board Oct. 10, strikes that language from the policies but does include broader language that says the district shall demonstrate the documented processes or other means by which Central Health ensures funds are allocated appropriately to pay for or benefit the population served by Central Health.

“There is so much suspicion among the taxpayers about what they are getting from that $35 million a year that is going to the Dell Medical School,” Shea said. “I’m not opposed to Central Health, and I think the medical school is a great addition to the community. I just thought we could’ve had stronger financial policies.”

County Judge Sarah Eckhardt felt that the language, although broader, would have been redundant.

“I want these financial policies to be truly a workable document rather than a political document and that they are truly helpful to the board in executing its responsibilities,” Eckhardt said. “I think that we are shy of that. But I do think that the [additional language]is a redundancy, so I’m left with wondering why to include it.”

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Luz Moreno-Lozano

Luz Moreno-Lozano is the Southwest Austin and Travis County reporter. Luz began working with Community Impact Newspaper in April 2017 after serving as the news editor for Cornerstone Publications in Castroville for three years. She graduated from Texas A&M University in 2013.

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