Governor’s Race Will Decide Broward Health’s Future

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

 

 

Although Broward Health is not on the ballot Tuesday, the results of the governor’s race could change the direction of the county’s largest public health system. 

Broward Health commissioners, the system’s governing board, are appointed by the governor.  Any newly-elected governor will probably appoint different commissioners to run the $1 billion-plus hospitals, clinics and physicians’ offices. 

A new direction is necessary because Gov. Rick Scott’s appointees have been a disaster. Broward Health has been plagued by a kaleidoscope of problems during the Rick Scott era:

  • Serious financial trouble, with Broward Health’s bond rating lowered. The system runs roughly a $150 million annual operating loss offset by property taxes, grants and other financial maneuvering.
  • Indictments of four of Scott’s appointees and General Counsel Lynn Barrett last year for illegally doing business behind closed doors in violation of the Sunshine Law. Barrett was finally fired this week.

 

Lynn Barrett

 

  • A multi-million dollar settlement of federal charges of Medicare and Medicaid fraud.  The settlement was roughly $70 million, a rounding error for Scott. His company Columbia/HCA was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. (Scott was not charged with any crime, which happened while he was CEO.)
  • Political meddling so bad that physicians fled the four public hospitals, potentially compromising patient care.
  • Critical medical equipment not purchased because of the failure to promptly sign contracts.
  • Scott appointed lily white, largely well-to-do commissioners to govern Broward Health. The governor rebuffed repeated complaints about his appointees not being representative of Broward’s population. The screen grab below is the ultimate poor optics for a heath system that serves a huge hunk of minority patients.

 

 

One recently appointee is not included here. A seventh position is vacant but Scott could fill it before he leaves office.

 

 

Clearly if Andrew Gillum becomes governor the next Broward Health Board will become more diverse. It will become a better reflection of Broward County. 

And just because Ron DeSantis is Republican doesn’t mean the current appointees are safe. DeSantis will want his own  people in place, especially since the system’s governing board is one of loftiest patronage jobs the governor can hand out in Broward. 

A big, big caveat! 

Those who despair about the health of the hospital system shouldn’t expect any quick change. Some incumbent board member’s terms don’t end until 2022, right before the next election. 

The first governing board member whose term expires is Christopher Ure, one of those indicted last year for violating the Sunshine Law.  His term ends July 20, 2019. 

Ure is one of two financial advisors on the board.  The other is Steven Wellins, whose term in up in 2021. 

Wellins tried to block the firing of chief lawyer Barrett earlier this week, according to the Sun-Sentinel. 

He voted against Barrett’s dismissal despite her being accused of, the Sun-Sentinel wrote,“…squandering the system’s money, harming patient care and creating a toxic work environment.”

That leads to an interesting Broward Health factoid which in no way is meant to accuse Wellins of wrongdoing in any way. 

Just the facts:  

* Wellins is a senior financial advisor with Wells Fargo Advisors. 

* Broward Health is currently discussing purchasing the property which contains a Wells Fargo bank at 1710 S. Andrews Avenue.

 

 



4 Responses to “Governor’s Race Will Decide Broward Health’s Future”

  1. In The Know says:

    Broward Health’s corruption has gone on through several governors. It will continue no matter who wins on Tuesday

  2. Trust says:

    I just feel all warm and fuzzy that Andrew Gillum, a Democrat Socialist who is under investigation for corruption by the FBI, can appoint a new board to Broward Health if he becomes Governor.
    “In the Know” has a valid point. Corruption rules Broward Health and the organization needs more than a new Governor from either political party to heal.

  3. Chaz Stevens, In Charge says:

    Socialism is good for you. How else would we have public schools?

  4. Justin says:

    Why are the Broward districts two of the only governor appointed boards in the state? They are special taxing districts and the charters for both Broward Health and Memorial should be rewritten so the taxpayers of those districts choose their representation. Here’s a better idea yet, instead of duplicating services combine it to one county-wide district!

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