Thinking Again About the Glen Rose Medical Center Monies- February 16, 2010 Part 1


Thinking Again About the Glen Rose Medical Center Monies- February 16, 2010 Part 1

16 February 2010 at 10:43:29 AM

The Somervell County Hospital Authority Board is planning a town hall meeting at, probably, the end of March or beginning of April, but it is not clear to me whether the 7 board members will actually answer any questions or simply present a forum for citizens to ask questions in an orderly fashion at a microphone, be asked for contact information and get an answer later, sometime after the meeting. I hope even if the Q&A is not interactive, that some questions still be asked, even if no answers are immediately forthcoming. (Wonder if a list of questions was presented first, if the board would be prepared to answer them? For example, they have been sent the questions Charley Thomas had, which were also printed in a letter to the editor in the Glen Rose Reporter this last week, so presumably they have plenty of time to bone up.)

For me, I've been trying to muddle my way through the financial situation at GRMC, which is now a dba for the Somervell County Hospital Authority Board, and all who work for GRMC are employees of that authority, whose members were appointed by Somervell County in December 2009. In 2008, 14.5 million dollars worth of Certificates of Obligation were voted on and passed, on a motion by Mike Ford, for monies to be loaned to the (at the time) private non-profit Glen Rose Medical Foundation, which had a contract lease of $1 per year for the building and equipment from Somervell County. (If you want to read a little history from county attorney Ron Hankins, here is something he wrote me about the history of the hospital here in response to a question I had about potential conflict of interest on Mike Ford's part. ) Because it was a private non profit, there were some extra measures that had to be done, including an IRS TEFRA hearing (remember that Mr Ford voted to move ahead on  the COs BEFORE the public TEFRA hearing was held). After that, a hearing was held to raise the tax rate to cover the COs, and our tax rates went up. They still seem pretty low, compared to a lot of other entities, so i'm not arguing outrageous taxes, merely saying that the county was then on the hook to make CO payments, starting in 2010 and had to budget for them. At that point, again, Somervell County owned the property and equipment and Glen Rose Medical Center dba for Glen Rose Medical Foundation leased it for a buck a year, plus had the CO lease repayments to make.

At the Certificate of Obligation hearing in March 2008, Walter Maynard raised the question about what would happen if, at sometime down the road, the whole thing became a hospital district. (Again, the audio link and a rough transcript is here)  That actually didn't take very long as you may recall that within only a few months after, Mr Marks led a campaign, with a vote on Valentines Day last year, to try to convert the Glen Rose Medical Foundation into a hospital district. I won't go over all that again, except to say that the vote resoundingly failed. One would presume that the payments were going to start to repay the COs, as per the lease, but instead, GRMF apparently knew they weren't going to be able to make the payments and went to the county, which decided to go for conversion, again, to a hospital authority. (as a side note, when you listen to this, note that the county is expected to do some level of subsidization for the hospital, including for the 501a doctor org)

Apparently the county didn't know that the hospital wasn't going to make back the lease payments of CO monies, because otherwise it wouldn't have come as such a shock to Maynard and Wirt at the December 2009 Hospital Authority meeting. They also spoke about this at the first January 2010 Hospital Authority meeting.

Here, from October 19, 2009 is Walter Maynard, Lloyd Wirt, Mike Ford (partial, the audio cut out), and James Barnard talking about auditing GRMC and how it would be up to the new Somervell County Hospital Authority to do so. And, listening to the audio from the Somervell County Hospital Authority board this last week, looks like they are going to do an audit. (February 11, 2010-financial committee)

At a meeting of the Hospital Authority of December 2009, it was reported in the paper  that there was one million dollars missing. I was not there nor was it possible to get an entire audio recording of the meeting, so I can't say for sure what was said. Walter Maynard explained that the certificate of obligation monies that were issued to the county were safe and had always been in the control of the county, so the reference was to the repayment of the monies, that were supposed to come BACK to the county under terms of the modified lease, but which, instead of being kept separately and not used for anything else, were used for operating expenses. In other words, the county thought that, when they made the change to a Hospital Authority, the Glen Rose Medical Foundation would be giving them monies that were owed to them as part of the lease payments back. But the repayment monies weren't kept in a separate account. I also think that maybe the 1 milion dollars erroneously referred to is how much the GRMF books were out of balance. The Hospital Authority said the next month that they were in the black and that million dollars was no longer a short, but they included the HRSA grant from Chet Edwards earmark to do so.  (More on that HRSA grant, here)

As Mr Thomas has pointed out, if the county expected to get back that money, and had budgeted for it, isn't it at least possible and likely probable that the county will have to come back and do SOMETHING to get back that money? What? Raise taxes? Cut out services? What? It probably won't happen right away since this is an election year but surely something will have to be done, right?

Will continue with this later. I welcome comments. If you see anything, as well, that is just flat out WRONG, please comment about it. I try very hard to put in audio, video, or source document links about anything I have an opinion on, but of course you may know something I don't. Please include a reference if you do.

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