Tax watchdog group concerned Halifax Hospital legal fees could cost taxpayers

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - Halifax Hospital stands to lose millions of public tax dollars in a whistleblower lawsuit alleges the hospital took money from Medicare.
 

Now representatives from a tax watch group told Channel 9's Lori brown that they are worried that the hospital could cost some residents of east Volusia County more money.
 
Halifax Hospital appears to be making mistakes in the whistleblower case that could prove to be very costly for taxpayers.
 
One judge called their conduct reprehensible, another called them out for discovery abuses and a third might now punish them for missing a key deadline in the case.
 
"It's hard for me to understand why they didn't comply with the directions from the court, because the directions were very clear," said attorney Marlan Wilbanks.
 
The suit by the U. S. Department of Justice alleges the hospital admitted unsuspecting patients who did not need to be there to make a profit from Medicare.
 
"If you're putting patients in the hospital who aren't supposed to be there, you're placing those patients at a health risk," said Wilbanks.
 
Halifax is funded by taxpayer dollars. Hospital officials have not revealed just how much public money they are spending to fight the DOJ lawsuit.
 
Hospital officials admit spending $23 million on attorney's fees so far, but they won't reveal the hourly rate of their attorneys, nor will they say how much is being spent on a public relations firm is hired after the lawsuit was filed.
 
The hospital stands to lose $200 million in damages in July.
 
"This could bankrupt the hospital unless they raise property taxes. That's a real concern," said Ed Connor, vice president of Volusia Tax Reform.
 
The hospital recently settled part of the case for $85 million.
 
Connor said he wonders why the hospital is still racking up legal fees.
 
"If they had settled a year ago they probably could have saved $10 million to $20 million in legal fees. That's taxpayer money," said Connor.
 
Despite legal woes, Halifax officials have expressed interest in expanding by buying Bert Fish Hospital in new Smyrna beach.
 
Halifax officials would not comment to Channel 9's Lori Brown on this story.