Public Florida system weighs going private

Fort Myers, Fla.-based Lee Health, a public nonprofit health system, is considering returning to its private roots. 

Lee Health spent its first 50 years as a private system. In 1968, it began operating as an independent special healthcare district created by the Florida legislature and governed by an elected board of directors. Earlier this month, the health system gained approval from the state to begin reviewing its governance structure and evaluate potential benefits of converting back to private. 

The system has tapped advisory firm Kaufman Hall to perform a comprehensive assessment and guide its decision. This independent analysis is only one step in a "thorough and lengthy discernment process," according to a Sept. 28 news release.

"The Florida legislature recognizes the growing pressures facing public health systems," Larry Antonucci, MD, president and CEO of Lee Health, said in the release. "The forthcoming evaluation will help us determine the best path to protect our financial health, independence and community-led structure long term, while also fueling our continued national leadership in healthcare and ability to provide a full array of high-quality care and services to everyone in our region, regardless of their ability to pay."

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