A wise bird advised me as I considered political office, “Every once in a while it’s critical for leaders to look back and make sure they have a following.” In that context, I’ve determined there are a time to lead and a time to listen and a time for action. With regard to the MHS Task Force I have led, listened, heard and learned and am now prepared to act.

Since being elected, I’ve learned we don’t do government because of ourselves – we do government in spite of ourselves. And I’ve learned that doing government is messy business – especially when “doing government” involves a full and transparent process. And as messy as doing this government business has been, I’m convinced we’ve reached the best MHS conclusion we could, given the personalities, facts and circumstances presented.

I’ve heard the community, (from leaders-to-led), who want to march toward the vision articulated by The University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) and after long hours and careful scrutiny of the facts presented, I support their march. When called on, I will cast my Memorial Health System Task Force vote in favor of the UCH plan.

If we properly execute the UCH plan we’ll simultaneously enhance 2 Colorado Springs institutions – the Memorial Health System and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. I like to think of the UCH plan as a roadway built on a base of wise stewardship and savvy investment in our future; and that when fully implemented, it will be the foundation of an enduring health care and medically oriented educational institution that will impact Colorado Springs for generations.

Of the University of Colorado Hospital proposal:

  • That they’ll provide quality health care goes without saying
  • That they have the intellectual capital to get the deal done should also go without saying
  • Additionally, they’ll provide $74,000,000 up-front, in one easy payment at closing
    • These funds will immediately be available for use in the general fund for any use
    • These funds could be used for public safety
    • These funds could be used for the back-log of infrastructure improvements (roads; bridges, etc)
    • These funds could be used for investment in new projects that could enhance the city’s sports or cultural scene
  • Additionally, they’ll provide $5,600,000 annually for 30 years
  • Additionally, they’ll provide profit-sharing to be available for local health care related uses – forever
  • Additionally, they’ll provide the best resolution to PERA – all PERA employees can keep their plan
  • Additionally, they’ll provide nearly $1.2 Billion in new capital investment over the term of the lease
  • Additionally, they’ll facilitate the construction of a new branch medical school on the UCCS campus
  • Additionally, while we’ll relinquish some local control, that relinquishment will be to our Colorado brothers & sisters, not a Board of Directors in a distant state
  • Additionally, our neighbors support this plan; therefore, it’s likely got the best chance for success at the polls
  • Finally, they’ll provide a mechanism for systemic cultural change in our health care system and community

Look, we need to continuously enhance the culture in Colorado Springs so it naturally attracts young creative folks. The UCH plan, in concert with forward looking changes at UCCS does that. It’s a truism that every prospering city in America has a major university system. The UCH plan, with its integration on the UCCS campus continues to push Colorado Springs in that direction.

Of the Health One proposal:

  • Health One says they will provide $330,000,000 net at the closing
    • As enticing as 330 million sounds, it’s a one-shot deal; we’d get the cash and dash
      • The $330 million provided by Health One would likely fund a health care trust only
        • The $74 million provided by UCH is immediately distributable in the general fund

Yes, Health One provides exceptionally good health care by every measure; but, Health Ones’ solution to PERA is “continued negotiation” and if their price-tag is too steep we’ll get the defict. That’s not a solution to PERA; that’s kicking the can down the road and hoping!

Health One is a profit machine:

  • In 10 or 20 or 30 years, in corporate America, the MHS/Health One plan could be a hot ticket in the “hospitals for sale” market – then what?
  • Health One offers a ready to run system which is fine
  • A “system” is not a “commitment” to an enduring institution
  • Health One is a good fall-back proposal
  • Health One has a track record of running hospitals for a profit
  • Their stated motive is the delivery of exceptional health care sustainably & efficiently
    • Their stated imperative is for Health One to be successful
    • Their modus operandi is to leave the operational decisions at the local board level
  • If we are not able to execute on the UCH plan, I’ll bet Health One will still be interested

I’m reminded of Cañon City in the late 1800’s when their city fathers were offered the University of Colorado or the Prison System. They chose the short money. And as they say – the rest is history. The UCH plan is long money.

I believe it is incumbent upon elected officials to think big thoughts, dream big dreams, be visionary and lead. Therefore, it’s my recommendation to embrace the shared vision of the community. I plan to lead in that direction.

Pay attention. Be informed. Make a difference. Keep it real.

I’d love to hear what you think. Tim@TimLeigh.com