Prince George's Executive Lawrence J. Hogan, angered by the County Council's rejection last month of his proposal to lease county hospitals, said last week that he would not pursue the creation of a quasi-public hospital authority as the council had requested.
In a letter to Council Chairman Parris N. Glendening, Hogan decried what he called the council's "philosophical bias" against the leasing proposal and rejected its pursuit of a hospital authority as financially and legislatively impractical.
"I'm afraid that before they council members complete this Quixotic journey," Hogan wrote, "they will find that the Hospital Commission's fiscal woes are beyond the ability of the county or a county-supported hospital authority to solve." Hogan said he believed the state General Assembly would reject legislation to create an authority, as it did more than a year ago, and, more importantly, that the authority simply would not solve the hospital system's "pressing financial problems."
Over the last three years, the Hogan staff developed a proposal to lease the county's three public hospitals and one nursing home to the Hospital Corporation of America, a nationwide chain of more than 300 hospitals. In drafting the lease, which the executive's son and aide, Lawrence Hogan Jr., called "the number one priority of our administration," Hogan pointed to yearly losses in the hospital system and rising salary costs, which he said the county would be unable to pay.
A vocal group of senior citizens opposed the lease plan, saying a private corporation would not provide adequate care for the indigent and the elderly. Council members also opposed a provision that would have banned performance of abortions in the hospitals.
A week before the vote, Hogan offered to renegotiate the troubling provisions of the lease, but council members said it was then too late to allow them to do an effective job of negotiating their concerns. On Oct. 6 the council voted 7-3 to table the lease legislation indefinitely, effectively killing the legislation since Hogan said he would not reintroduce it. The council also voted 6-4 to send a letter to Hogan asking him to investigate a hospital authority.
Council Member Ann Landry Lombardi introduced a resolution at this week's council meeting asking a council committee to make recommendations for establishing such an agency.
A hospital authority would have the power to issue bonds and make day-to-day management decisions without the consent of elected officials. Its leaders, however, would be appointed by elected officials.