The Daily

Socialized Medicine in Lee County, Florida


The Lee Memorial Health System is a Florida Municipal District, authorized by Government Charter to operate hospital services in Lee County, Florida. It is now the only provider of hospital services in Lee County, Florida – owning each and every one of the hospitals currently operating here. In addition, LMHS aggressively pursued the rest of the healthcare market in the county by consuming almost all of the physician practices and clinics. It operates them as Lee Physicians Group.

The citizens of Lee County, Florida get government controlled healthcare. There is no other way to spin that fact. Each of the LMHS healthcare providers (each and every hospital, administrator, supervisor, clinic, doctor, nurse, radiology tech, pharmacist, laboratory technician, billing clerk, etc.) is a government employee.

Make no mistake about this – if you live in Southwest Florida, particularly Lee County, you have socialized medicine. The Government controls the entire physical plant and delivery systems through which your healthcare is accessed. There is no effective competition. No effective private market.

There is also no other County in Florida where a Government Tax District controls all of the Hospitals, let alone the doctors’ offices.

So what does this mean? Do the Lee County consumers benefit from this government healthcare monopoly? And how did it happen?

First, it is important to remember that the Government is entitled to sovereign immunity – meaning, that it cannot be held liable without its consent. In Florida, the waiver of sovereign immunity is limited to $100,000 per claim.[1] This immunity extends to doctors and nurse employees of Government hospitals – they cannot be sued personally for damage they cause.[2] In order to recover any damages in excess of this cap, a ‘claims bill’ must be passed by the legislature (a process that usually requires a lobbyist, placing the remedy beyond the reach of ordinary citizens).[3]

In most medical malpractice cases, the tort reform described above makes the prosecution of most cases worth one hundred thousand dollars or less economically not feasible. The effect of tort reform together with sovereign immunity caps makes LMH effectively immune from any responsibility in most cases. The effect of being unaccountable shows up in sloppy care and patient safety statistics. Lee Memorial and Quality Fraud

It is important to understand the history of Lee Memorial Hospital as a political entity and government agency. It is a confusing, unprecedented and tumultuous story – filled with conflict and questions raised about the political body’s authority.

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[1] 768.28

[2] 768.28(9)(a)

[3] See, our representative cases for the medical malpractice claims bill passed in Nelson v. South Broward Hospital Tax District.