Two physicians groups have contributed more than $1 million to the cause of getting a "Yes" vote Nov. 3 in the Marion County special election that would allow Wishard Health Services to move ahead with plans to build a new $754 million hospital.
IU Health contributed $750,000, and the IU Medical Group Foundation gave $300,000, according to financial filings from Citizens for Wishard, a political action committee. The Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce contributed $1,000.
"The outpouring of support for a new Wishard that we have received from across the community has been amazing," said Dr. Christopher Stack, president of Citizens for Wishard, in a written statement. "We are particularly grateful for the financial support from local medical organizations -- it shows how much Wishard means to our doctors, nurses, surgeons and medical administrators and their level of commitment to keep Wishard serving Indianapolis."
Citizens for Wishard has spent $284,871 with Hirons & Co., a local public relations and advertising firm. That money has gone for advertising, public meetings and other outreach efforts.
According to information obtained by the Indianapolis Taxpayers PAC, Wishard Health Services pays IU almost $50 million annually to lease professional medical services from IU to staff Wishard Hospital. It's quite obvious these physicians have a vested self-interest in the outcome of the November special election vote. Marion County property taxpayers will be on the hook and be forced to pay as much as $54 million a year in higher property taxes if the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion Co. has insufficient revenues to repay the bonds it plans to issue to build the new county hospital. Not surprisingly, many of the doctors who contribute to this PAC do not live in Marion County and won't have to pay those higher property taxes.
UPDATE: Early voting numbers show considerably fewer people voting to date in the special election than last year's primary or general election, although they're running ahead of last year's special election voting in the 7th District congressional race, which does not include all of Marion County. Here's the numbers from the Clerk's office:
This week 202 voters visited the Clerk’s office to vote early, bringing our ten day total to 493. To compare to previous elections:
260 voters in the first two weeks of early voting in the ’08 Special Election
902 voters in the first two weeks of early voting in the ’08 Primary Election
5984 voters in the first two weeks of early voting in the ’08 General Election