March 11, 2016

Sneaky Friday announcement: Gov. to takeover UNM’s hospitals/health sciences to stop healthcare expansion plan

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Susana Martinez is trying to take over the UNM Health Sciences Center.

You probably won’t believe it – who are we kidding, it’s Susana Martinez – but Gov. Martinez is attempting a shady movida on a Friday afternoon to take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the hands of doctors and qualified hospital administrators and hand it over to her hand-picked political appointees.

A story from the NM Political Report (full story here) was just published that shows the UNM Board of Regents have an item on their Monday meeting agenda to dissolve the board governing the UNM Health Sciences Center and replace its oversight with the UNM Board of Regents, all of whom are Susana Martinez appointees.

The UNM Health Sciences Board was created under Gov. Richardson under the belief that political appointees at UNM didn’t have the proper experience to guide the hospital and so needed a team of doctors and hospital administrators…you know, the people who actually do this stuff everyday and aren’t influenced by fickle political winds.

The Board of Regents has always been an important body, but it has become politicized in recent years under Martinez. The most recent example of this was during the 2015 legislative session when Martinez tried to appoint her political crony Matt Chandler, who ran a Republican super PAC in 2014 that attacked Democrats in crucial districts with baseless lies for which he never apologized. Thankfully, his nomination was rejected by the Senate, something that hadn’t happened since 2010.

Why does this matter?

First off, an action as important as this – where hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of potential jobs, and the reputation of one of NM’s most venerable institutions are involved – should not be simply sprung on the public on a Friday afternoon. State legislators should have had a chance to weigh in on this during the recent legislative session. The public should have more than two (weekend) days notice.

But even more importantly, this is another example of Susana Martinez cronyism and political meddling. Here’s what Mel Eaves, a Health Sciences Center board member, had to say about the motivations behind this attempted coup (emphasis added):

Eaves calls this “a horrible idea” and says it’s motivated by opposition to building a new University hospital from the governor’s office.

“This is all in reaction to myself and [HSC board members] Debbie Johnson and Anne Rhoades, we’ve all expressed strong support for the hospital,” Eaves said. “They’re wanting to get rid of us. They don’t want any dissenting voices.

“This is all part of a plan,” he continued. “I think they want to get rid of HSC leadership.”

Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration has blocked attempts to build the new hospital in the past. Lovelace Health System, a campaign contributor to Martinez, has also strongly opposed the new hospital.

Susana Martinez trying to silence dissent? We’re shocked. Shocked!

Further, Gov. Martinez simply shouldn’t be continuing to meddle in New Mexico’s healthcare systems given her utterly dismal record.

Case in point: Martinez’s behavioral healthcare takeover. Martinez’s attempt to take over the state’s behavioral health system and give it over to her hand-picked Arizona providers failed miserably even though it threw our behavioral health system into turmoil for over two years.

Martinez accused providers of wrongdoing to strip them of contracts – but Attorney General Hector Balderas has now cleared 13 of the 15 providers of wrongdoing.

ProgressNowNM’s Alex Curtas had this to say:

“An action as important as this – where hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of potential jobs, and the reputation of one of NM’s most venerable institutions are involved – should not be simply sprung on the public on a Friday afternoon.

“The legislature should have weighed in; the public should have more than two (weekend) days notice. When a member of the Health Sciences Center board is already calling this proposal “a horrible idea” and that it’s motivated by the governor’s opposition to new UNM hospital, you know it’s bad.

“Though it may be convenient for those who want to end the hospital’s plan for expansion of the UNM healthcare system, our communities’ healthcare shouldn’t be the subject of political posturing.”

What can you do?

Speak up!  Tell the Regents we don’t need this kind of change happening without YOUR input.

Send them a message now: Dear Regents:  Keep politics out of UNM healthcare

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