OCALA, Fla. — Tuesday, voters resoundingly rejected the local hospital bond issue and tax referendum that appeared on the ballot. That measure would have generated $65 million for Munroe Regional Medical Center and enabled it to continue as a not-for-profit hospital under local control. Nearly 58 percent of the votes cast in this year’s general election were against the measure. The election outcome now is expected to allow outside for-profit parties to take over the hospital.
A Tallahassee group formed by Associated Industries of Florida also pumped more than $100,000 into an anti-tax campaign. As a result of the issue’s defeat, Marion County Hospital District trustees will continue further discussions with two private healthcare companies that want to lease the 421-bed facility. One is Duke LifePoint Healthcare, a joint venture of Duke University Health System and LifePoint Hospitals. Dule LifePoint is offering $375 million for a 40-year lease on the facility.
The other competing entity is a partnership of Health Management Associates and Shands HealthCare. That duo is offering an amount ranging between $440.2 million and $500.2 million.
MRMC is currently owned by the Marion County Hospital District, which is overseen by seven trustees appointed by the County Commission. District trustees currently lease the hospital to Munroe Regional Health System, Inc. MRMC is by most measures the first hospital of choice for residents in the greater Ocala.