State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, is asking Jefferson County to “slow this train down” in its efforts to work with the University of Alabama at Birmingham in forming a health care authority.
“They have not looked at Act 201 that was passed in 2016 dealing with the Indigent Care Fund. You cannot take the Indigent Care Fund and do what you want to do with it,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he received a copy of a confidential contract between UAB and Jefferson County concerning a proposed healthcare authority. He said the agreement has problems with personnel and other matters.
The state representative said a repeal of Act 201 from 1965 would be required to allow the health care authority to be established, and he says that hasn’t been done.
“You’ve got to do a repeal of a local constitutional amendment to do this,” he said. “They’re in such a hurry to run rampant over the people, they don’t even look at what they’re doing and it’s wrong.”
Rogers called the contract “a bunch of malarkey.” He said the contract calls for the authority to have a 7-member board with four members coming from UAB.
“And it said if at any point the indigent care money ends, the whole thing ends,” he said. “UAB walks away willy-nilly, and all the burden falls on the county. It’s ridiculous. They’re not even talking about the (county) employees they’re going to release.
“They’re running rampant over the people of Jefferson County and I’m not going to sit still and let them punish the people of this county any kind of way.”
County manager Tony Petelos said that the County Commission more than a year ago instructed him to work with UAB specifically to look at the possibility of organizing a health care authority for Cooper Green.
“We’ve had negotiations, we’ve been talking with them, working with them, talking with other providers,” he said. “We’re still in the negotiating stage and I’m not ready to talk about that issue today. We’re still negotiating to see if the commission wants to move to a health care authority or we can continue to maintain (indigent health care) here in Jefferson County.”
The county manager noted a 1987 report that concluded Jefferson County needed to move to a health care authority. He cited shortfalls at Cooper Green Hospital and subsidies coming from the county’s general fund.
“We need to get out of the health care business as far as the day-to-day operations,” he said. “Jefferson County will not get out of the business. Indigent care dollars go to the Jefferson County Commission and the Jefferson County Commission will be a part of that solution.”