Sarasota County loses suit, faces $300 million hospital bills

Gavel, scales of justice and law books
Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Sarasota County could be on the hook for $300 million in medical bills for care private hospitals gave to poor patients because of a state Supreme Court ruling.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an obscure law requires Sarasota County to reimburse all public and private hospitals for indigent care.

Private hospitals discovered the law and began submitting bills to the county, which refused to pay them.

The hospitals sued and a trial court and appeals court ruled in favor of the county, saying the state constitution prohibits laws that benefit an individual corporation.

But the Supreme Court reversed those decisions and said the law only spells out the geographic area of the county’s hospital district and allows any hospital to benefit.

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