Saturday, April 3, 2010

Vexing Dr. Havon Jr's statement and another deal in the works for VHS?

The Pub has to respectfully disagree with Dr. M Dean Havon Jr. in his statement in his letter titled "Hails passage of health-reform bill" that appeared in The Winchester Star on March 25th:

For those who would say the price tag is high, I say that all of us already are paying the cost of medical care for the uninsured. When you go to an emergency room and are diagnosed with a relatively mild illness, but still get a bill for more than $1,000, you are helping pay the hospital’s unreimbursed expenses incurred by others.

In our opinion locally, that emergency room $1,000+ bill for a relatively mild illness is a result of the following:

The Winchester Medical Center's profits alone from 2001-2007 increased 460%.

2001 - $11.8 million (per Quad State Biz Journal)
2005 - $54,346,679 (per IRS990)

2006 - $57,422,678 (per IRS990)

2007 - $66,617,961 (per IRS990)

Also, that $1,000+ bill probably helped the former CEO/PRES of Valley Health System enjoy these impressive annual salaries.

2003 - $455,020

2004 - $620,432

2005 - $824,113

2006 - $730,318

2007 - $927,147

2008 - $1,036,579

Remember, the Winchester Medical Center is classified as a "not-for-profit" that receives the tax exempts perks.

Was anyone else taken aback that VHS tried to get a blanket exemption for their entire campus at 1840 Amherst Street?  Must give kudos to the City Assessor and Commission of the Revenue in making the recommendation to deny this blanket tax exempt request.

During the City Councils work session on March 23rd:

The council also forwarded by a 6-0-1 vote an ordinance to deny an application by Winchester Medical Center to grant tax-exempt status to its entire campus at 1840 Amherst St. Butler abstained. (Mike Butler abstained and Jeff Buettner was absent)

City Assessor Will Rice said the application represents an amendment to a previous request to declare the hospital’s diagnostic center tax-exempt.

City Manager Jim O’Connor said he hoped he could speak with representatives of Valley Health, which owns the hospital, and “work out an amenable solution.”

Not sure how anyone can dispute the fact that Valley Health System's epic growth spurts has cast some ill affects on our local private businesses and even tried to stop the Eye Surgery Center of Winchester from opening up on Amherst street.

Then vice president Larry Van Hoose is quoted, "We were against it because it was duplication of our services which tends to drive up health care costs"

At the City of Winchester's current tax rate of $0.77 and the 1840 campus property has an assessment of $272,214,900.00, this equates to $2,096,054.73 in tax dollars not in our city budget.

A few questions that are fair and reasonable:

With the recent passage of the Healthcare Reform bill, will there be a need for a "not-for-profit" hospital?

What will happen to the millions of dollars in charity care that VHS gives away annually with “ObamaCare” coming?

We have yet to receive answers to our questions in regards to the new Wellness and Fitness Center from any VHS representative in the letter that was in print back on October 16, 2009 on Wellness & Fitness Center.  Cick on the following link: “A year old, How’s the Wellness Center at the Hospital doing thus far?” 

For the record, requests have been sent to Mr. Mark Merrill (new CEO/PRES of VHS), Mr. Wes Williams (VP Marketing/Community Relations of VHS) and Mrs. Dena Kent (VP/President Valley Regional Enterprises) and even inquired over the phone with Mr. Merrill back on November 30, 2009.

To close, if VHS just paid their real estate taxes which appears to be very minimal when compared to the enormous profits that the WMC has turned out from $11.8 million in 2001 to $66.6 million in 2007, then would there be a need to keep raising our water rates and pondering whether or not to start charging residents for trash pickup?

If you agree, then contact your respective councilman and even Mr. O’Connor as the perception is that some type of another deal that is going to be worked out.  Review the deal that the Wellness and Fitness Center got, as it appears to be very much in favor of VHS in paying a reduced real estate tax which is affect for 50-years.

To avoid a lawsuit and trial, city officials and Valley Health reached a real estate tax agreement dated March 4, 2009.

The medical organization will pay a fee based on the city’s real estate tax rate as applied to one-third of the assessed value of the wellness center, according to the agreement.

The wellness center is assessed at about $11.2 million. A third of that would be about $3.7 million.

The city’s real estate tax rate is expected to be about 77 cents per each $100 of a property’s assessed value when the next fiscal year begins July 1.

Based on those figures, Valley Health would pay a $28,490 annual fee in lieu of real estate taxes.

The annual fee will be split into two payments due at the same times as regular real estate taxes — June 5 and Dec. 5.

The nonprofit organization’s first bill will be due in June, and will be assessed at the current real estate tax rate of 68 cents per each $100. That means the initial bill for the first six months of 2009 will be about $12,580.

Please review the attached letter that IHRSA (International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association) sent to Valley Health officials back on January 23, 2005.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 12:05 PM
Subject: IHRSA letter to VHS BOD's back in 2005 (Wellness & Fitness Facility)
To: James Oconnor , Milt McInturff
Cc:,,,,,, Adrian O'Connor , Vic Bradshaw , Alex Bridges ,, James Heffernan , Lorraine Halsted , Maria Hileman ,,, James Tully ,

Dear Jim and Milt,

I just got off the phone with Tim Sullivan from IHRSA and he informed me that the VHS BOD's never responded to the attached letter from 2005.

Please review IHRSA's recommendation on how VHS should operate the Wellness & Fitness Facility.

Respectfully shared,
Jeff Milburn


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Tim Sullivan
Date: Fri, Mar 5, 2010 at 11:34 AM
Subject: Re: IHRSA Letter to Valley Health BOD 2005


Nice speaking with you. See if you have better luck opening the attached.


Tim Sullivan, Legislative Analyst
IHRSA, International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association
Seaport Center • 70 Fargo Street • Boston, MA 02210 USA

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