To pay for a shiny new downtown hospital, the parent corporation of Wishard Health Services will commit itself to yearly debt payments 10 times as high as they are now.Wall's story makes Gutwein out to be a financial wizard for supposedly turning around the deficits at Wishard because of his wise investments in a nursing home chain empire. He completely ignores the hundreds of millions the federal and state governments have contributed to Wishard Hospital over the past several years in Medicaid disproportionate share payments to help offset uninsured cases not otherwise covered by Medicare/Medicaid or private insurance, not to mention the tens of millions dollars in property taxes sent to him annually. Efforts at the State House to share some of those payments with Community East Hospital, which is experiencing an increasing number of indigent patients, were thwarted by lobbyists for HHC and Clarian, which also grabbed hundreds of millions of dollars of these payments for Methodist Hospital in recent years.
But Wishard officials have no doubt they can bear the extra load because of places like Rosewalk Village, a nursing home that sits on the eastern side of Indianapolis . . .
Health & Hospital’s nursing homes last year threw off $43 million in cash.
Now the organization can apply that money to the new $754 million hospital, which will re- quire annual debt payments of $38 million to $42 million.
“We have bought some of the worst nursing homes in the state of Indiana and turned them around,” said Health & Hospital CEO Matt Gutwein, noting that his own grandmother lives in one of the group’s nursing homes.
Health & Hospital announced July 12 that it would borrow up to $703 million to build a new Wishard hospital on the IUPUI campus, replacing its aging complex of 17 buildings at 10th Street and University Boulevard.
Gutwein is taking great pains to demonstrate Health & Hospital’s financial strength because he needs voter approval to borrow the money to build the hospital.
And he’s promising that Health & Hospital, which is partly supported by Marion County property tax revenue, will have no need for a tax increase.
At a recent council hearing, Gutwein raised questions about Community East's financial viability, omitting the fact that Wishard and Methodist hog all of the disproportionate share payments to Marion County. Hall's story references "enhanced payments" HHC receives, without describing their purpose. One source complained to me that Clarian relied on those indigent care funds, in part, to help pay for the costly monorail it constructed to connect Methodist Hospital with the IU/Wishard medical campus at IUPUI.
Wall discusses the HHC's Rosewalk Village as a shining example of how the HHC is committed to "quality above net profits." Nowhere in his story does he mention the recent closing of Lockefield Villages, a nursing home adjacent to Wishard which the HHC only built in the mid-1990s. That facility only had a one star rating out of a possible five star rating from Medicare at the time of its closing.
Wall also boasts of the fact that HHC is earning profits of 17% of revenue before depreciation, amortization and interest are taken into account. Missing from that boast is the fact that HHC is removing hundreds of millions of dollars in assessed value from the property tax rolls at a loss to local units of government across Indiana and is not paying any income or sales taxes. I think I could make healthy profits on just about any business if I didn't have to worry about paying taxes to the government. Matt Gutwein is no business genius. He's just very effective at using our tax dollars as leverage to bilk more money out of the government. The question that should be asked is why we are allowing him and the HHC to diverge away from their mission of providing indigent care to Marion County residents and towards the building of a statewide health care empire?