Tallahassee Poses Questions About Leon County's Proposed Health Care Plan

Mayor John Marks says city commissioners support an effort to address the health care problem. However, they just want to know exactly how the $18 million the tax is expected to generate will be spent.

If voters approve, Leon County will have one of the highest sales taxes in the state at eight percent.

Leon County has tried to meet the needs of the thousands of uninsured residents through facilities like the Bond Clinic, but it's overloaded. Another program, Neighborhood Health Services, has a waiting list extending for months.

Kimberly Sheldon said, "This isn't a problem that just affects minorities, this is not a problem that just affects women. It's a problem that really affects our entire community."

Leon County is hoping a half cent sales tax to support a health care program will be the answer to the uninsured problem, but there are questions coming from the city.

Mayor John Marks said, "The county may have a good plan to do that, but we just want the make sure the community understands what the plan is, how it's going to operate, how it's going to resolve the problem before we impose a tax on them, that's all."

The county's overview of the plan breaks down the costs with a majority of the money going to professional and pharmacy. The total expenditures are about $20.7 million.

Bill Proctor, Leon County Chairman, said, "I'm hoping the city has a swift learning curve and we won't have to hold their hands and baby sit them on this matter. They are very bright and well trained on grasping issues real quickly; I think it's just a matter of focusing."

The city manager's office is expected to send a letter to the county Tuesday to highlight other concerns. Among them are the working poor, and those who are offered insurance but may not be able to afford it.

If approved by voters, Leon County residents who will qualify include those with a household income falling below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, those who do not qualify for state or federal insurance programs or those who are not offered insurance through an employer.