Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health and Hospital Corporation Violating The Law With Statewide Nursing Home Ownership?

Gary Welsh of Advance Indiana on Monday reported that Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County (HHC-MC) went on a buying spree purchasing at least 23 nursing homes all over the state of Indiana. HHC is a municipal corporation that reports to the Indianapolis City-County Council.

Scroll down the list to see which nursing homes HHC-MC owns.

When I read Gary's story, there was something that didn't ring true. The Indiana Legislature establishes municipal corporations and give them certain powers. I couldn't imagine that the General Assembly would want a municipal corporation based in one part of the state doing stuff in another part of the state. So I took a look at the code.

The powers of municipal corporations are outlined in IC 36-1-4 et seq. The general powers contained therein would appear at first to allow HHC-MC to do what they did. However, there is IC 36-1-4-18 which governs "extraterritorial powers." That statute says "[a] municipality may exercise powers granted by sections 5 and 6 of this chapter in areas within four (4) miles outside its corporate boundaries.

Thus, it appears that the powers bestowed to HHC-MC, which powers are contained in section 5 and section 6, would be limited to within 4 miles of Marion County. Let's examine what the powers are in those sections:

IC 36-1-4-5 states "A unit may acquire, by eminent domain or other means, and own interests in real and personal property."

IC 36-1-4-6 states: "A unit may use, improve, develop, insure, protect, maintain, lease, and dispose of its interests in property."

What HHC-MC is doing owning nursing homes would seem squarely to fit within those two statutes and thus be subject to the 4 mile limits of IC 36-1-4-18.

This is a quick glance analysis, but that quick glance seems to reveal a clear legal violation of the statutory 4 mile rule.

1 comment:

Clayton Moore said...

Health and Hospital owns 34 nursing homes and they are 4 in Ft Wayne, 8 in Indy, 2 in Evansville, 2 in Elkhart, 2 in Clarksville and so on. H&H law is located in IC 16-22-8 and it's powers are pretty broad. They started buying these homes in 2003 and according to the property tax records some of them are worth well over $2 million and they DO PAY PROPERTY TAXES. The bad thing is they bought these with taxpayers funds and today was the first time that the State Board of Accounts found out about it. They couldn't believe that they were buying property outside of Marion County. I think an audit is on it's way.

To understand the problem here a little better you have to think about what you would do if the Mayor announced that he had bought several hotels and motels across Indiana with our tax dollars. We would have a fit. We would start playing the what if game and impeach him within a month. H&H had to buy these with tax dollars and to make matters worse they still received $92 million in property taxes this year from all of us.

I called a councilor today and his reaction was, so what. I came unglued and stated that this is wrong and we should shut them down and fire them all. The tax records don't even discuss the nursing homes or where the money went or came from. The financials from Wishard stated they lost $156 million last year. Now if Matt Gutwein would spend a little more time working for Wishard things might not be so bad there.

All of us should band together and do somehthing before it's too late. BTW in these nursing homes H&H has 4,935 total beds, 4,203 Medicare beds,461 Private beds and 400 Medicaid beds (so much for the poor) with an occupancy rate of 75%.

Call your city-county councilor, state rep and senator and let them know about this. I have a feeling most of them will be very surprised and angry. BTW I hear our Barnes and Thornburg's puppet, better known as Mayor Ballard has been instructed to support this. Wonder if he knows about the nursing homes? Just The truth!!!!!