When Enough is Never Enough: PGCE Baker Edition
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker continues to take swipes at Governor Hogan for the Prince George’s Hospital funding, despite the Governor providing the requested $15 million in a supplemental budget for FY2017. That money is not enough for CE Baker. He wants Gov. Hogan to release another $15 million immediately, claiming that it is money owed to Dimensions Healthcare for the fiscal year 2016. He has stopped just short of calling the Governor racist, but he has told media like WBAL that he believes the Governor is being vindictive because PGC didn’t vote for him.
The problem is, the state did not owe Dimensions Healthcare or the Prince George’s Hospital dime one in FY2016. The Memorandum of Understanding that CE Baker likes to cite was signed by Martin O’Malley in 2011, and expired in FY2015. O’Malley’s MOU was signed with a timeline that had construction on the new hospital starting in 2014. Here it is, 2 years later, and they still don’t even have permission to break ground. Yes, Dimensions asked for $15 million from the state in FY2016, but they also said that although it would be a struggle, they could do without the funds.
Erica Murray, a spokeswoman for Prince George’s Hospital, said the hospital would struggle to function without the funding, but it could be possible.
“The funding from the state is important to us. We are working with our stakeholders and all interested parties for a favorable outcome,” Murray said. (11 Feb 2015)
The state of Maryland, along with Prince George’s County, has been artificially propping up Dimensions Healthcare Systems and their mismanagement of the Prince George’s County Healthcare system for years. UMMS (University of Maryland Medical System) is in the process of taking over Dimensions. This hospital, while the core of CE Baker’s Largo revitalization project, is also the core of the take over. The new Largo hospital is set to be a wholly UMMS operation. Once in place, the shutdown of the current Dimensions-run hospital would begin, thereby hastening the UMMS takeover. Governor Hogan was right when he said:
“The state cannot act as the perpetual backstop for the hospital and the taxpayers deserve a lasting solution and an assurance the bailouts will come to an end. By transitioning operational responsibility for the county’s primary medical facility to an established health care leader — the University of Maryland Medical System — we can finally get control of the problem. I am pleased to be able to deliver the financing to bring about this important change, and finally end the county’s reliance on state subsidies to deliver basic health care services.”
To complicate matters for CE Baker, the President & CEO of UMMS assured the Governor that the $15 million in the supplemental budget, plus the capital funds will be enough to get the hospital project done.
The University of Maryland Medical System CEO, Robert A. Chrencik, said he was optimistic about Mr. Hogan’s plan.
“We think what the governor has put together here is really what will make that happen,” Mr. Chrenick said.
Shareese DeLeaver Churchill, a Hogan spokeswoman, told the Washington Business Journal:
“We have all assurances from the parties involved that the monies proposed is enough to bring this project to completion.”
So if UMMS says that this is enough, why is County Executive Baker not satisfied? Why is he and his friend Senate President Mike Miller pushing for an even larger amount via a spending mandate bill (SB 324)? The State and the County have already spent millions upon millions of dollars propping up a private company.
When will enough be enough?