Sunday, June 26, 2016

We're headed to the pawn shop with the hospital stuffed in a gym bag, but why this sale, and why now?

Three days later ...

And with a donation and naming rights to the little league park's ball fields, finally the Floyd hospital deal makes sense.

 ... the "local" paper catches up with the C-J's story. However, items of interest are revealed therein, so let's take a look.

Floyd Memorial sale vote coming Tuesday; Some questions still in the air, by Jerod Clapp (Claysburg Chronicle)

The last vote is just three days away, but some the details regarding Floyd Memorial Hospital's sale to Baptist Health have raised concerns among local officials.

We see the city of New Albany's corporate legal puppeteer Shane Gibson searching for loopholes.

Shane Gibson, city attorney, said in an email that the city continually examines things like TIF districts since they have an effect. But he also said the city requested the three appraisals he said are required by state law. Greg Fifer with Fifer Applegate and Pullium was hired to file the request. In a statement, Fifer said that information was denied.

Gibson's a Democrat. So is Brad Striegel, but he's down with the sale, and has been from the start.

(Striegel) said he's satisfied with the final agreement and is confident it'll go through.

“I am pleased with the process and have no concerns with the final draft,” Striegel said. “I believe it is the best thing for Floyd County, the community and the hospital that they will see for decades to come. History will judge us by this decision. I think it will have a positive impact for the community. It will set the county up financially for decades if the money is used properly.”

It's not a Brexit-scale split, although all Democrats aren't on the same page with the sale. Has there been any Republican dissent with the decision to sell the hospital? If so, I'm unaware of it.

Meanwhile, the most totemic of county Democrats, Chuck Freiberger, has continued to be the primary public voice of dissent with the deal -- in large measure, he's been the only such voice.

Has New Albany's mayor gone on record with an opinion?

Chuck Freiberger, county commissioner, said he's still unsure of the deal and doesn't know that he can vote in favor of it.

“We have a big decision coming up,” Freiberger said. “I am still a little hesitant. I still have questions and doubts whether we should sell the hospital, and if we are getting a good deal. At this time I don't see me voting yes.”

Granted, public reaction to the hospital sale has been tepid. Few seem to care, and there seems to be an accepted premise: Well, better to dispose of an asset than risk higher taxes.

And yet, there is a recurring question, down at the foundation: Should we sell the hospital?

The common answer to date has been this: Yes, because we'll never get a better deal than right now.

This is an answer, but not to the original question. It presupposes the answer to the original question: Should we sell the hospital?

Who answered the original question? Who made this decision? Was it the two Republican commissioners? The Republican county council majority? Dr. Eichenberger alone? With or without the Democrats?

There are two major queries here, and they're separate. Should the hospital be sold? If "yes," then is the deal we're getting a good one?

Can someone -- anyone -- show us the chronology of the decision to sell the hospital?


w&la said...

Two problems with this proposed hospital sale:

1) The proceeds of the sale will not grow - it's slated to be spent in lieu of the necessary raising of taxes. Using the money this way diminishes the net assets of the community.

2) Folks always think of these sales in the short term. When the company that purchases the hospital is purchased or decides to re-sell our formerly local hospital to another entity, the already tenuous ties to the community and the small promises made will fade more quickly.

A case in point -

Louisville Gas & Electric was owned by the City of Louisville. Since it was operated for and on the behalf of the citizen owners, the utility sold electricity and natural gas at near cost rates. Louisville had some of the lowest energy costs in the US, which led major corporations like GE and Ford to locate very large factories in Louisville, which then resulted in great employment, taxes and growth.

When LG&E was sold to Powergen, a British utility group, prices for the utilities immediately rose. Powergen then sold to Eon (a German utility group). Eon was purchased by PPL Corporation, formerly known as PP&L or Pennsylvania Power and Light.

With each sale, rates have increased. While some might argue these rate increases were inevitable, the point remains - if LG&E were still owned by the City of Louisville, rate increases would not necessarily rise as high due to local self interest. Local interest would have kept rates lower, instead of higher rates for out of town shareholders.

Selling the hospital to an outside interest eliminates any local control over balancing the costs of services rendered and increasing profit for our local Southern Indiana community.

And any one who thinks "these new owners will never sell our local hospital to anyone else" are fools.

When our local hospital is sold, it becomes merely a balance sheet item. lumped together with other assets, ready to be traded, bought or sold to any other business who wants to chase profit or loss.

Resident said...

According to the News and Tribune the county is considering investing the money.

w&la said...

The money is already invested - in something called "Floyd Memorial Hospital." They aim to sell that investment and spend the money.

You made me laugh out loud - it's obvious Floyd County's taxes are too low.

It's disingenuous to sell an on-going community service that literally deals in life or death in our community and then kind of promise that "we'll invest some of the proceeds."

Quoting the article you mentioned: "Some of the funds will likely be used immediately to balance the budget deficit, make some jail repairs and purchase new road department vehicles."

Sell a hospital because you can't balance the current budget? Need to purchase vehicles?

As I said, the community hospital is being sold. The proceeds are slated to be spent in lieu of the necessary raising of taxes. Using the hospital in this way diminishes the net assets of the community.