As expected, the El Paso Children’s Hospital will continue to be a drain on the El Paso taxpayers. It has already been established beyond any doubt that the El Paso Children’s Hospital business model is not sustainable. In spite of this, and as I have been pointing out numerous times, Veronica Escobar has chosen to keep the children’s hospital as a continuing drain on the taxpayers of the county.
Besides the ability for Escobar to continue to use the children’s hospital as a budget line item without public scrutiny, her insistence on keeping it is political. Veronica Escobar and her cohort, Susie Byrd were very vocal in support of the children’s hospital and its ability to be an asset for the city. She cannot allow it to fail because it would reflect badly on the public persona she has been cultivating for many years.
As of 2012, the year the hospital officially opened to the public, the accountants were pointing out that the hospital was not financially able to continue operating. [The Children’s Hospital by the Numbers] We already know that the children’s hospital borrowed money twice from the University Medical Center (UMC) better known as the taxpayers of the city. The latest public discourse tends to indicate that it will be borrowing money from UMC again.
Since it became public knowledge that the children’s hospital owed UMC millions of dollars in unpaid services, the two organizations decided to secretly work out a deal to resolve the problem. In other words, the taxpayers of the community, who are footing the bills, were kept out of the search for a solution. The first thing that the children’s hospital did was to contract Susie Byrd to handle public relations.
Byrd’s connection to Veronica Escobar is well known and therefore it is likely that the two women kept each other abreast of what was going on with the “secret” negotiations. What has trickled out is that the El Paso Children’s Hospital owes about $80 million to UMC.
This is money that is owed to you, the taxpayer and it is debt that continues to grow on a daily basis.
The board of the El Paso Children’s Hospital has until tomorrow to approve or reject the latest secret term sheet given to them by UMC. Notice how many times I use the word “secret” to refer to various dialogues and information between the two entities?
The reason for this is that the end game is to keep the children’s hospital operating regardless of its financial ability to do so. This is what Veronica Escobar is pushing for but is trying desperately to mask it as a solution to the continued drain on the taxpayers.
What has trickled out about the latest offer to the children’s hospital clearly proves this. The University Medical Center wants to have complete oversight over the children’s hospital. It wants to appoint the board and it wants its CEO to approve the children’s hospital internal operations. Additionally, it proposes to forgive part, or all of the debt owed to UMC.
Look closely at how this is being structured.
First, and foremost, the children’s hospital will become completely subservient to the politics of the county judge through UMC’s CEO and board. The children’s hospital will have its debt forgiven and remain a private entity, separate and apart from public oversight.
This is the most important thing to note about the proposed structure. As I have already shown you, the El Paso Children’s Hospital is not subject to open records, yet it uses your money to operate. It also owes you millions of dollars.
UMC’s proposal keeps the secrecy intact while using your money without oversight and most importantly it gives Veronica Escobar a budget to manipulate as she sees fit. Just like her close friend, Susie Byrd, was paid an unknown amount with your money, if this latest proposal is accepted, Escobar can fund her special projects/friends without having to account to you.
For you, the taxpayer, the problem is even worse because the underlining problem that led to this mess has still not been resolved. It is a fact that the business model for the El Paso Children’s Hospital is not viable and thus the only way it remains operating is through your tax dollars. I am aware of the rumor of a bankruptcy filing by the children’s hospital if UMC cancels the services it is threatening to cancel. Whether the children’s hospital files for bankruptcy or not is irrelevant to the end game because the largest creditor is UMC, which is you, the taxpayer. A bankruptcy filing is just a delay to the end game.
It is the perfect scenario for Veronica Escobar, she gets to control a budget bolstered by your money and gets to do it in secret. This is the end game for the El Paso Children’s Hospital.