Bert Fish opts for Adventist in do-over

Despite a last-ditch proposal by Health Management Associates (NYSE: HMA) to run Bert Fish Medical Center without using Southeast Volusia property taxes by 2020, the New Smyrna Beach, Fla., hospital board voted once again to partner with Adventist Health, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The board voted 6-1 in favor of a 35-year lease with Adventist Health. One board member dissented. The suitors that lost out were HMA and Halifax Health.

It was the second time the board had voted this way in six months. The do-over was an attempt to address concerns in a lawsuit that sought to stop the first Adventist-Fish merger due to possible Sunshine Law violations related to 21 closed door meetings.

Some accused Bert Fish of just going through the motions. "I don't believe this cures anything," Jeff Feasel, Halifax's top executive, who made a bid that topped Adventist's capital commitment to Bert Fish by $6 million and cut the potential taxpayers' obligation by hundreds of millions over a 25-year period, told the News-Journal. "The board just committed this community to hundreds of millions of healthcare dollars they didn't have to spend."

Noah McKinnon, a member of the Bert Fish Foundation who also is representing the foundation in the lawsuit, called the do-over a legal ruse. "There was nothing genuine about this do-over,"he said.

To satisfy the Sunshine Law's "cure," the open proceeding must not be tainted by what occurred in earlier closed sessions. But the partnership with Adventist was allowed to stand during the redo process, thereby tainting it, lawyers for the foundation argued.

The first hearing in the Sunshine Law suit is scheduled for Nov. 18.

To learn more:
-read the Daytona Beach News-Journal's stories: article 1 and article 2
- read the 13 News article

Related Articles:
HMA, Halifax Health woo Bert Fish...again
Hospital merger scratched due to 'Sunshine' violations

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