Thursday, March 3, 2011

March 3: Follow Motivations Behind Proposed JMH Deals

By Sylvia Gurinsky

It sounds like the proposed deal by Massachusetts-based Steward Health Care System to buy Jackson Memorial Hospital is starting to lose steam. One can only hope.

The proposal has generated plenty of questions - including one of whether Florida Gov. Rick Scott - he of the problematic career in managed health care - is a semi-invisible force around it.

That question was triggered by Scott's own question earlier this week of whether Miami needs a public hospital. Well, if Scott ever gets out of his own fantasy world in which no one is poor and needy, he'll see that the answer is a resounding Yes.

Jackson Memorial Hospital was around for 86 years before Scott ever decided to move to Florida; it was founded in 1917. For most of that time, Jackson has been a center for those who could find no place else to go.

It's also become a force of innovation through its numerous centers and partnerships with both the University of Miami and Florida International University.

More recently, though, it's been lacking competent people to stay away from financial ruin and competent oversight from either the Public Health Trust or the Miami-Dade County Commission.

But one thing is clear: A takeover by Steward - a company with no local connections - is not the answer. Neither is privitization, or the shutdown of services for Dade's poorest residents.

There isn't time to waste to save the complex before summer, when Jackson's money runs out. But there's certainly time to investigate Steward's motivations - and say no to a deal.

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