Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Muhlenberg - Westfield Leader - Colvins' letter on finances

Westfield Leader, August 7, 2008

Letter of Revs. Jim and Sarah Colvin

Taxpayers Pay for Questionable
Hospital Closings in New Jersey

Thanks for your coverage of Muhlenberg.

The only entities who benefit from the closing of a hospital are the large corporations that close them. Gov. Jon Corzine must be pleased that his friends at the top of the economic food chain benefit so handsomely. Catholic Health East of Pa. will receive $252 million in low cost bonds issued by the state as it takes over St. Michel’s in Newark, and the issuer may well be Corzine’s alma mater, Goldman Sachs. (Goldman Sachs is listed as a possible issuer in the NJ Hospitals and Facilities Authority bulletin). For the first six years, we taxpayers will shell out $8.8 million per year, then theoretically the company will take over payments, although we remain on the hook for the duration.

Solaris Health Systems, who declared Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center insolvent and convinced Corzine and his Health Commissioner, Heather Howard, to close this essential urban hospital, will benefit greatly from the closing. At first, Solaris applied for $70 million to close Muhlenberg. Now the number has magically increased to $160 million — an astonishing figure that could be used to maintain the hospital for another ten years! We taxpayers have a right to see just what the $160 million is intended to do.

Instead, Solaris is trying to cash in at the expense of state taxpayers and at the same time selling off as much of the property as possible. (It is valued at over $90 million.) Solaris must be drooling in wait of the day when they can shut down all operations in Plainfield and cash in to support bloated executive salaries. CEO John McGee makes $652,000 on the books and who knows how much from his other business dealings partnering with local politicians.

Corzine should be held accountable for these amoral shenanigans that end up endangering people by depriving them of healthcare. Not surprisingly, most of them are located in poor urban areas with large minority populations.

We pray for the day when Corzine holds no public office and Solaris is out of the healthcare business — and for the day when healthcare is seen as a human right rather than a source of profit for the few.

Revs. James and Sarah Colvin
United Church of Christ, Plainfield

About Me

Plainfield resident since 1983. Retired as the city's Public Information Officer in 2006; prior to that Community Programs Coordinator for the Plainfield Public Library. Founding member and past president of: Faith, Bricks & Mortar; Residents Supporting Victorian Plainfield; and PCO (the outreach nonprofit of Grace Episcopal Church). Supporter of the Library, Symphony and Historic Society as well as other community groups, and active in Democratic politics.