Monday, September 07, 2009

HHC's Exploitation of Officer's Shooting Is Shameless

There is absolutely no trick the Marion County Health & Hospital Corporation won't pull out of its sleeve to convince Marion County voters to approve borrowing more than $750 million to construct a new hospital to replace Wishard Hospital. HHC officials are now using the shooting of Officer Jason Fishburn to sell the public on a new hospital. Fishburn was taken to Wishard's Level I trauma center after he was shot in the head last year during the line of duty and successfully treated. He has since returned to work at IMPD in a limited capacity. The Fishburn family says its support of the new hospital is its way of "paying it forward." WRTV reports:

The Fishburns said the project must be completed to ensure all residents have access to a Level I trauma center.

"This is a way for Jason and I to pay forward what has been given to us," Dennis Fishburn said.

Fishburn, who was shot in July of 2008, has since returned to light duty with the police department.

The City-County Council would also need to approve the hospital plans. If approved, the hospital's current campus would be given to the university in exchange for the new land.
If Wishard's Level I trauma center at the hospital is so outdated, how was it able to so successfully treat Fishburn with its current facilities? Just asking. The construction of this new hospital has nothing to do with what happened to Jason Fishburn and it's completely shameless of the HHC to use his tragedy for this purpose.

Don't believe for one minute that this hospital can be built without raising taxes. HHC officials are lying to the public and they know it. Its current revenue model cannot possibly be sustained to support the more than $30 million in added debt service to pay for the new hospital. A commenter on the website best summed it up:

Indianapolis residents beware. There is a lesson to be learned here about honesty and about speculative financial projections made by politicians when they want to float bonds to be guaranteed by taxpayers. This is what will happen to Marion County taxpayers with the new Wishard proposal. They tell us one thing. Then later they go "hey, we were wrong" and hand you the tax bill. Carmel officials are now telling the public their promise that the project would be self sufficient was "never a realistic expectation." That means it was a lie. The very similar sounding promises of Bob Grand and Health and Hospital that the 800 million dollars in bonds they want the property taxpayers of the County to guarantee in the Nov referendum should ring hollow. I have nothing against hospitals. We have plenty of them. I just don't believe them when they tell us they won't raise property taxes because the project will be self supporting.
How does that old Abraham Lincoln saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. How many times are we going to be fooled by the lying, self-dealing people who control our City-County government before we finally catch on to their ways?


Jon said...

You are correct in that whatever they say it will cost to build and finance the new hospital it will be a low ball figure. Didn't the bond rating for Indianapolis just get lowered and won't that increase costs?
Oh yeah, this is Indianapolis we don't have to use real figures, just make something up and when the real number appears just refinance. Hey it worked for Veolia!

POPA said...

AI: I'm very interested in this story, but I'm not sure where everybody is getting their numbers. You say that this project will add $30 million per year in debt service? Where did you get that figure? Is that before or after deducting the annual maintenance that they have to do on an old Wishard?

Also, if you want to argue that we don't KNOW that Wishard's income stream will stay as robust as it is right now, okay, but you act like you KNOW it's going to get worse. Am I overstating your position? If not, from where do you get your opinion that it's even likely HHC is going to go into the red and need to raise taxes. (I suppose some people will say we should never chance it, but what I want to know is if you have specific information on this specific project or on HHC's operations that makes you say they will fail to cover costs)?

I ask because it seems strong to call people liars unless you know for a fact that THEY KNOW HHC is going to tank. Otherwise, aren't they just more optimistic than you but within the realm of reasonable judgments?

Thanks in advance for your reply.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Wishard's income stream is based on a scam to over-bill the federal government for Medicaid costs in order to extract larger reimbursements from the federal government. Wishard is actually getting more money than it actually costs to deliver those services. This scam has been well-documented in GAO reports. Wishard is one of the worst examples you will find. There is no way the federal government allows this to continue if it adopts anything similar to what Obama is proposing as far as national health insurance plan. In particular, the nursing home scam gig will be called out eventually and the nearly $40 million in revenues being thrown off there will be significantly reduced, if not eliminated altogether. If you believe they are going to have less operating expenses to operate this brand new facility, you better think again. The lower bond rating for Indianapolis should have no effect on this project since it plans to issue the so-called America bonds the Obama administration is offering as part of its stimulus plan to promote spending on more government-funded construction projects.

Downtown Indy said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Shame on them for exploiting (even if the family came up with the idea) the devastating injuries of Ofc. Fishburn for their own purposes.

I would say though, that their hugely successful treatment of him tells me they evidently do just fine with the facility they have - so why build a new one?

The decision of whether or not to build a new hospital should not be exploiting the community outpouring of emotions surrounding this officer's ordeal.

Will they use the tear-streaked faces from a Jason Fishburn news conference's footage, or images from the crime scene on that fateful day in TV ads next?

Paul K. Ogden said...

IPOPA, I think the saying "where there is smoke there is fire saying" sums it up completely.

HHC snuck this new hospital thing into the budget bill in a special session. Apparently they even tried to evade any vote by the electorate at all, wanting to use the petition process instead. They wrote it in such a way that they could have a special election when they knew turnout would be very low and would favor the referendum. (They could just have easily had the referendum in 2010.) Then they went out and write the most biased referendum question I have ever seen. The question doesn't even mention a new hospital or that they would be issuing bonds. Then we find out HHC of MARION COUNTY has purchased hospitals all over the state.

I have an open mind on a new hospital. But given their history, I don't trust HHC and its lobbyists one bit. If this is a needed, reasonable project, why not present the issue fairly to the voters and let them decide? HHC doesn't want that. Major red flag.

And, as Gary points out, the exploitation of Fishburn is beyond contemptible. It doesn't at all prove their need for a new hospital. It's shameful exploitation.

POPA said...


Then I'm more convinced now than ever that Wishard can swing these additional costs without breaking a sweat because there is no way any real healthcare reform will pass, largely because of efforts from folks like yourself. Ahhh. Now I can sleep well at night.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Police officers are PROHIBITED by regulations from public involvement in political matters.
Yet there are TWO police officers (both Jason and his father) standing in front of a POLITICAL POSTER, urging people to vote YES to a political question.
What gives?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Matt Gutwein is not supposed to be advocating support for the public referendum in the course of carrying out his duties as CEO of HHC, but he does it everyday. The rules only apply to people like you and me, Concerned Taxpayer. The elites can choose which laws it follows and which laws it chooses to break without retribution. I'm sure nobody explained the law to the Fishburns. They're simply tools of the elites.

Paul K. Ogden said...

By the way, I meant HHC is purchasing nursing homes throughout the state not "hospitals."

Downtown Indy said...

And HHC is plastering their little signs promoting their propaganda website all over the place, especially around the 10th and Indiana corner.

They should look up the Indianapolis/Marion County Revised Code section 734-202 which would tell them these signs are being placed illegally and subjects them to up to a $2500 fine for each one. (Although I suspect the City NEVER enforces this nor levies the fine)

As an aside, actually enforcing this ordinance could be a rather profitable venture for the city.

As it is, they seem to ignore the violation mostly, and paste their 'PROHIBITED' bumper-stickers on illegal signs sparsely.