September 15, 2012
Posted on Thu, Sep. 13, 2012
Many Miami-Dade leaders oppose move to privatize Jackson ERs
By John Dorschner
About 200 people packed a Jackson Health System board meeting Thursday to hear vehement objections about the possibility of privatizing some operations at Miami-DadeCounty’s safety net hospitals.
Politicians, leaders of women’s groups, union members and taxpayers turned the public hearing of almost three hours into a broader denunciation of government efforts — including moves by Florida Gov. Rick Scott — to turn over some governmental operations to for-profit corporations.
“I am outraged that you would you would take my taxpayer dollars to let someone make a profit,” said Elizabeth Judd, a retired Biscayne Gardens resident.
The huge reaction was caused by Jackson Chief Executive Carlos Migoya’s move to seek requests from outside companies to see if it made sense to outsource some of the clinical operations of the system’s emergency rooms. The possible change could affect 46 full-time employees, including 29 physicians, 16 nurse practitioners and one physician’s assistant.
“No decision has been made to contract services,” Jackson said in a written statement. “This is a fact-finding process that will allow Jackson to make a recommendation based upon facts…. Jackson’s mission will not be compromised…. The emergency room will remain open to everyone.”
But many speakers saw a larger danger of public operations being handed over to private companies.
“I see this as a backdoor approach to the full privatization of Jackson,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan.
Commissioner Audrey Edmonson also objected to the idea, saying “it leads to laying off our employees. All it takes is 20 here and 10 there and 10 somewhere else and before you know it, you have the whole hospital privatized.”
Former State Rep. Elaine Bloom decried the possibility of out-sourcing of Jackson services and told a story about how she opposed the efforts of Scott, when he was head of the HCA hospital chain, to get more profit out of the healthcare system by having doctors refer patients to facilities in which they had a financial interest.
Other speakers said that a private company would inevitably provide inferior care to the poor and uninsured who use Jackson’s emergency services.
The debate overshadowed news that Jackson had a net surplus of $3.1 million for August — the sixth consecutive month of surplus.
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