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Three Questions for Your Local, Scandal-Plagued Public Hospital District

Broward General Medical Center: Scene of the crime?
It's time to start paying attention to what's happening at the North Broward Hospital District (AKA Broward Health). Or rather, it was time back in January, when Gov. Charlie Crist removed two commissioners who were going to reform the district from its corrupt ways and kept two commissioners who were then under criminal investigation. What does that say about the governor's -- and the district's -- priorities?

But hey, maybe those of us familiar with the district's checkered history are just being paranoid about the latest outrageous idea: to convert the public hospital system into a private nonprofit. After the jump, a list of questions I've sent to Broward Health officials.

1. What was the genesis of the pending proposal to convert the public hospital district to a nonprofit organization? Specifically, at what hospital commission meeting did the board tell district CEO Frank Nask to begin researching this question?

(Or am I mistaken in believing that it would be inappropriate for a CEO to spend his valuable time on such an endeavor without first getting the go-ahead from a commission, in full view of the public?)

2. Currently, Florida's democratically elected governor appoints the seven commissioners. The current group of commissioners, who were all appointed by Republican governors, seem unlikely to be retained after Alex Sink (a Democrat) or Rick Scott (a Republican without strong loyalties to the party powers) is elected in November.

Naturally, this raises a question whether the commissioners support the district's conversion based on a desire to take the appointment power out of the future governor's hands so that they can remain in their powerful positions in perpetuity.

What assurances can the commissioners give to North Broward health consumers who have a stake in the efficient, ethically responsible operation of a district that has received billions from taxpayers over the years?

3. If the proposal goes forward, will there be a public bid for the assets of the district?

As to number three, I'm pretty sure the district's charter requires a public bid. But then, I'm pretty sure it also requires the board to ask its CEO to research such questions before he comes back to them with an answer.

I'll put up a new post after I hear back from the district. For added context, here's Bob Norman's post on the subject. Here's one by the man of a million pseuds, John DeGroot.

Bottom line: Health care is scandalously expensive in America but nowhere as scandalously overpriced as in South Florida. So if health consumers can't be bothered to pay attention now, they pretty much deserve what they get.

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Thomas Francis

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