Prince George's County Council member Ann Lombardi Tuesday formally recommended that the county's troubled hospitals be leased to a county-created nonprofit corporation.
Lombardi, who led council opposition to a lease proposal by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan last fall, described the recommendation as a way to "help (Hogan) fulfill his 1978 campaign promise to solve that problem."
The Lombardi plan, introduced in draft form in January, calls for the county to create an independent, nonprofit corporation to run the three hospitals. Its directors would be primarily county residents chosen in consultation with community and professional groups, and would include representatives of business, medical and consumer interests. The county would be required to pay the hospitals for indigent care services but would have no control over management.
Such an arrangement, said the report, "provides adequate assurance that the open-door policy of the hospitals, as well as the full range of community services now being provided, will be maintained and quite possibly enhanced, while at the same time the costs may be contained through more effective management."
Also, said the report, "The economic advantage to the county is at least equal to, and probably superior to," that of the executive's proposal.
The Lombardi plan is actually the result of several months of work by a committee of citizens, public officials and health experts formed by the County Council in November after it defeated a plan proposed by Hogan. The county executive's three-year effort to lease the hospitals to the private, profit-making Hospital Corporation of America was thwarted by the council after vigorous opposition from community groups, many of them made up of senior citizens, who said the Hogan lease failed to provide adequate protection of indigent care services.
Hogan said he had not seen the report but promised, "I will look at anything that goes toward solving the problem." He added, however, that his office had considered a proposal from a nonprofit corporation to lease the hospitals and found its bid inadequate.
"The hospitals are running a $3 million deficit, they're not paying the debt service on their bonds. Unless the leasing entity has the financial resources it doesn't accomplish anything. Nobody's told me where the money's going to come from. If they (council members) assume the money is coming from the county, they're sadly mistaken--there isn't any."