Health Care Plan Celebrates Silver Anniversary
Twenty-five years ago, Hillsborough County leaders began a revolutionary project to provide health care services to the working poor.
Funded by a half-cent sales tax, the Health Care Plan would provide health care to those at or near the federal poverty level who were going without medical care.
Led by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, the Health Care Plan's backers made two promises: the plan would result in desperately needed medical care for those too poor to afford it, and it would save taxpayers money by, among other things, cutting the costs of ER visits whose expenses ultimately fell on local governments.
A quarter century later, Hillsborough County's bold move to provide a local solution to a national problem has proven to be the gold standard and an unparalleled success on both counts.
- In 2016, the Health Care Plan provided access to quality, cost-effective, comprehensive health care to more than 18,000 unduplicated Hillsborough County residents.
- Emergency room visits, length of stay, and return visits are better managed, and the Health Care Plan experiences an annual $23 million savings in ER costs due to community partnerships in the Tampa Bay area.
- Each year, the Hillsborough County Health Care Plan has a positive economic impact for Hillsborough County, with an estimated over $1 billion the last 10 years.
- In that same time period, the plan served more than 260,000 residents. The plan is expected to provide some 343,000 individual medical services in 2017.
The plan, which in 1995 was named the Most Innovative Government Program by the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, continues to add services that help patients and reduce long-term costs. The plan last year began to offer mental health and substance abuse treatment. This year, it will offer preventive health, nutrition, and exercise programs through its Healthy Living Program at several County community resource centers.
On Wednesday, June 7, Hillsborough County will commemorate the project's quarter century of successes at a special ceremony. The celebration will include Hillsborough County commissioners and local civic, health care, and social services leaders, including current plan administrators and some of the plan's original architects.