UPDATE: Sean Paige, with Americans for Prosperity, had this to say about the decision to open to the public bids for leasing Memorial Health System:
That's a welcome change but it shouldn't be so hard to get people to do the right thing in this city. This RFP process has been plagued by problems, from a chairperson with an agenda to an aversion to honest competition to an on-again, off-again attitude toward transparency, so this last-minute bow to openness won't make everything right. But it at least helps bring the people back into what's supposed to be a public process.
——————ORIGINAL POST, 1:17 P.M. —————-
All bids to lease city-owned Memorial Health System will be presented publicly, by the bidders themselves, at a town hall meeting in December, says Jan Martin, City Council president pro tem and chair of the City Council Memorial Task Force.
The decision comes after Sean Paige and Jeff Crank, local activists with Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit funded by the Koch brothers, complained of secrecy by the task force in revealing only the winning bidder.
(By the way, here's a Bloomberg link for a comprehensive story about the Koch brothers and how they operate.)
Martin says the process includes the following key dates:
Nov. 14: Bids due to the task force.
Nov. 17: 5 to 7 p.m., Town hall meeting in City Council chambers to explain the process of leasing Memorial thus far.
Nov. 18: Bids given to task force members for consideration and scoring.
Dec. 1: Scores due back from the task force members.
Early December: Town hall meeting at which bidders will present their proposals.
The task force also will hear presentations from the bidders. That date hasn't been set yet, though it could come as early as Dec. 2.
The city wants to lease Memorial in hopes it can operate in a more competitive way as health care evolves under new "bundled" government reimbursements. Because Memorial is city owned and subject to politics and open records laws, it's handcuffed from competing head to head with other health care providers. For example, doctor groups are signing up right and left with Centura Health, which owns the city's other system, Penrose-St. Francis, because Centura is a non-profit not subject to government disclosure. That means those contracts don't have to be released to the public. At Memorial, they do have to be disclosed.
Also, Memorial's marching orders as a city hospital is to serve the city's population and not branch out to the state's borders to bring in more patients and more provider partners. Without that restriction, it could secure partnerships with clinics in Trinidad, Lamar, La Junta and other outlying areas that would help make Memorial a regional facility. It's a model Centura has been pursuing for several years.