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Court hears Central Health critics, takes no vote

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 by Caleb Pritchard

The Travis County Commissioners Court on Tuesday put off action on an agenda item that could expand the court’s oversight of Central Health. As the Austin Monitor reported last week, the proposed changes include annual audits of the hospital district’s spinoff nonprofit entities as well as a general performance review of Central Health itself. Although County Judge Sarah Eckhardt declined to vote on the proposed changes, she did allow a handful of Central Health critics to speak on the item. They echoed previous arguments that Central Health is straying from its statutory purpose of providing health care to low-income residents of Travis County. Attorney Bob Ozer raised doubts about the efficacy of the county’s proposed reforms, a sentiment shared by the other speakers. Eckhardt told the group that she is working with county staff to determine how best to address the activists’ concerns and promised “continuing conversations.” Commissioner Margaret Gómez seized that statement and asked the activists, “Is that clear to y’all? I want to make sure that we’re all on the same page here and that we’re understanding each other, that this is a first step only.”

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