As you may already know, KVIA has been reporting about the financial woes of The El Paso Children’s Hospital. Although we do not yet know the full extent of their financial troubles we can infer that it will ultimately involve the taxpayers’ monies. One thing that is clearly developing is how this, is yet, another example of how the taxpayers are hoodwinked into grandiose plans surrounded by feel-good arguments about the community but always resulting in unsustainable financial forecasts that are designed to attract votes but turn out to be nothing more than fanciful graphs full of make believe numbers. Much like the ballpark fiasco is today.
Here are some of the things to keep an eye on as the hospital’s shell game continues to be exposed.
KVIA has been doggedly asking hospital officials for answers. Although the hospital has finally released the records sought by KVIA, notice how their representative prefaces the records disclosures by stating that the non-profit is not subject to the open records laws.
Technically, she is correct in that the Children’s Hospital is a non-profit hospital. Ostensibly it was created this way to take advantage of Medicare reimbursement rates for stand-alone entities. However, I believe that this was also intended to allow for secrecy in their financial dealings. Although it is important to remember that the Children’s Hospital uses taxpayer monies for its sustainability through their use of the infrastructure owned by UMC, a taxpayer funded entity.
In fact, Mike Rooney who has followed UMC and has advocated for transparency by UMC has stated that all of this is a setup for an upcoming tax increase. Rooney, who kindly provided me, and KVIA copies of the Children’s Hospital bond presentation has stated that the “special committee they are forming, is a PR Band-Aid to get the issue out of the news cycle“.
As a matter of fact, in their 2007 presentations to the community the children’s hospital, in fact, told the community that they would be leveraging Thomason Hospital for sustainability. On their slide titled “Key Operating Assumptions for Financial Sustainability” they wrote that low cost financing construction is available to them by using the “the financial strength of Thomason Hospital“.
From the initial steps the children’s hospital was already planning to leverage the taxpayer funded UMC for their sustainability. However, in order to get the voters to buy into their scam they pledged to the community that they would be sustainable through preferred Medicare reimbursement schemes within the first few years of operations. Now it turns out that not only is the model unsustainable but it appears the taxpayers are being prepared to bail them out.
Basically, the hospital has put the community on notice, by both their posture and their actions that they will not be open, transparent and forthcoming with the taxpayers, while at the same time expecting them to bail the hospital out.
Not only will this allow them to keep internal operations away from the community’s scrutiny but it also allows them to use UMC as a public checkbook while giving the county commissioners the opportunity to insulate themselves as they force a tax increase upon the taxpayers.
The whole thing is a shell game where the taxpayers are the ones being had.
Watch how the drama will continue to unfold. First, UMC and the Children’s Hospital will have the financial committee come up with how to deal with the financial shortfalls. The children’s hospital will argue that its records are not subject to public scrutiny while the financial advisors will ultimately determine that the viability of UMC and the Children’s Hospital necessitates a tax increase.
County commissioners, under the tutelage of Veronica Escobar, will vote to levy taxes in order to bail out the children’s hospital, for the benefit of the children, will be the wink, wink message. However, in a shell game all is not what it appears to be.
The taxpayers cannot be tasked to fund a nonprofit directly, however since the children’s hospital owes monies to UMC, a taxpayer funded entity, it will argue that the revenue shortfalls will need to be made up by a tax increase.
And there is how a tax increase is in the works to keep an unsustainable model on the public dole.