So..when Glen Rose Medical Center was a private hospital, unsupported by Somervell County taxpayer money, then-CEO Gary Marks decided to establish a doctor clinic in Pecan Plantation for the benefits of residents there. Pecan Family Medical Center is in a gated community where the public cannot freely enter without explicit permission and is also in Hood County, TX. That seems absolutely appropriate to me, no taxpayer money was involved, and if he wanted to go put in clinics in every state under the sun, that would be GRMC's business. Once he did not look to start paying back the 14.4 mlilion bucks that Mike Ford pushed before a required IRS hearing, GRMC became a public hospital, under the auspices of Somervell County Commissioners Court. In a later year, formation of a Somervell County Hospital District with taxing authority was very narrowly passed and at that point the hospital, STILL PUBLIC, was subsidized by taxpayers.
The Pecan Family Medical Center did not close. Why it didn't, in my opinion, can only be attributed to the fact that the powers that be wanted to avoid finding out that they could NOT operate a clinic in another defined hospital district. Otherwise, they would have, to be upright and forthright, sought an attorney general opinion.
Even more telling, at a recent Somervell County Hospital District meeting, board president Chip Harrison discussed getting an interlocal agreement with Hood County IN ORDER to operate not only Pecan Family Medical Center but also to open up two additional clinics which would be directly competing with Lake Granbury Medical Center. One would be at Decordova, the other in Acton. IF it were perfectly legal to expand in another hospital district, this discussion surely wouldn't have come up. AND why should there even BE a discussion UNTIL after there's an interlocal agreement. IF Glen Rose Medical Center were a private hospital wanting to open up clinics in various areas, there would be no issue, this would simply be market strategies under free enterprise principles.
One thing Mr Harrison said, apparently without any proof I can tell, was that Hood County Hospital District plans to raise taxes beyond the NO TAX that they currently don't pay. I called up and spoke to a Hood County Hospital District member and was told that this had never been on the agenda or discussed. If, in fact, it has been, then I believe it's the obligation of Chip Harrison to produce the proof from a Texas Open Meeting. The only reason I can think of that he would bring up something that is nonsense is to attempt to bolster a case for why it's okay to operate a clinic that is not public in another hospital district territory. But to beat that horse again, Lake Granbury Medical Center, part of CHS, is a private, for -profit hospital that provides services for indigent county residents based on Hood County Hospital District criteria. Because LGMC makes money, and then pays the part that goes to provide for indigent care, there is no necessity to tax anyone. Not the same thing in Somervell County, where everyone is being taxed, and the budget for the future calls for raising taxes some more. Why? So that GRMC can expand its base by operating clinics, not in Somervell County, but in Hood County. I call that POACHING. GRMC is NOT, as it once was, a private hospital but the district election settled where its boundaries are. Since 2 hospital districts cannot exist in the same physical territory, that leaves Somervell County OUT of Hood County.
But suppose that the budget that Mr Harrison and some other misguided people on the board passes and money is spent for clinics in Decordova and Acton (not to mention the vote to expand and lease more space in Pecan Plantation). That means that the idea of expanding the *base*, ie, getting more people as a semi-captive audience to go to GRMC, would be in effect. Seems to me that that would lower the number of people that go to LGMC if there is then competition for services. Surely the sharefholders of CHS aren't in favor of this. Further, suppose that LGMC started actually LOSING money because of the interlopers from another district that built clinics- might then it become a factor in Granbury residents beginning to PAY taxes? Alternatively, since Acton and Decordova are WAY THE HECK OUT THERE and it's not close one bit to go to GRMC, AND closer to go either to LGMC or Fort Worth, seems like a losing proposition if people don't want to drive way the heck around to Somervell County.
The argument is made that having clinics in another county brings in revenue, ultimately, due to doctor referrals, etc. This even though for a couple of months this year Pecan Family Medical Center actually lost money. However, I believe that if it operating as a poacher in another hospital district and our taxes are going to maintain this, the ends don't justify the means unless you are the type of person that is fine with wrongdoing as long as it might turn out okay.
In any event, when I talked with the Hood County board member today she told me she was unaware of the plans to expand services from Somervell County Hospital District into Hood County. If this is all on the up and up, shouldn't the Somervell County Hospital District board be making arrangements to meet with Hood County to alert them as to what is being planned, especially since there is NO interlocal agreement at this point?
P.S. I hightly doubt that Hood County residents, who pay no tax, care about whether Somervell County residents are about to have their taxes raised in the next budget go-round. After all, besides paying NOTHING, Somervell County comes to help the Private Gated Communities have convenience clinics,(Pecan Plantation and proposed 2 in Decordova and Acton) and the Rich Privileged people don't even have to say thank you. What a deal!