Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hearings Sought in Not-for-Profit Hospital Deals

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hearings Sought in Not-for-Profit Hospital Deals

Article excerpt

Legislation that requires public notification, hearings and full

disclosure when a notfor-profit hospital changes ownership has

passed the Georgia and Arizona legislatures, but is stalled in

the Florida Legislature.

"We're battling the clock," said Marty Moore , the lawyer in

Attorney General Bob Butterworth's office who helped draft the


Butterworth is championing the measure as a way to avoid some

of the community uproar and fractious legal fights that have

taken place when Columbia/HCA and other for-profit entities

acquire not-for-profit assets, Moore said.

Such a dispute has taken place in Jacksonville stemming from

Columbia's attempted joint venture with University Medical


"The spirit of the bill is that there are not-for-profit

entities in every community that have been built with charitable

donations and grants of public funds," he said. "These

organizations provide valuable community services. When the

board of directors of one of these organizations is transferring

control of these organizations or more than 50 percent of their

assets, they must do this in the sunshine, much like a public


The bill as proposed requires any non-profit organization with

assets of $5 million or more provide a public notice 60 days

before a deal closes, hold two public hearings and give the

community an opportunity to review the transaction documents. It

also requires an independent valuation and it requires every

member of the board of directors to sign an affidavit that they

have disclosed any conflict of interest or separate agreements

they may have with the purchaser, he said.

Serious opposition to the legislation is not coming from the

Florida Hospital Association, the industry's leading trade


"These are community assets and we certainly don't mind the

community being informed about what is happening with those

assets," said Bill Bell, the hospital association's general


Nevertheless, the hospital association does not want the bill's

provisions to be so burdensome that they prevent mergers from

happening, he said. …

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