Nov. 8, 2016: Vote AGAINST Issue 64

Tuesday, November 8 is decision-day for Lakewood. Please vote against Issue 64!

Key points to remember:

Issue 64 is a vote on the ordinance that closed Lakewood Hospital. If you disapprove of the deal that closed our publicly owned hospital, vote against 64.

We deserve a better deal. The people of Lakewood owned 100% of our hospital and its assets, and the hospital employed almost 1,100 people. Ending up with a health center that someone else owns, and which will employ fewer than 200, is obviously not investment or progress.

Issue 64 includes no plan to replace lost jobs and tax revenues, or to redevelop the hospital property. In fact a noncompete clause will block other hospital systems from ever introducing competing services on that property.

Issue 64 means bare-bones healthcare in Lakewood, and needed emergency care left in question. Most serious emergencies require hospital facilities to treat; health centers and ambulance rides are not substitutes. That’s why Ohio Nurses opposes Issue 64. That’s why Avon is opening a new hospital, not an urgent-care office.

Lakewood can do better. Issue 64 doesn’t guarantee anything to Lakewood, even basic 24/7 ER services. All it guarantees is the noncompete clause that keeps our options limited. The Cleveland Clinic negotiated this because the market for hospital services is competitive. By rejecting the noncompete clause we can benefit from competition and gain services, jobs and better pricing—we can hold an open bidding process for hospital assets, which officials have not done.

Example of Issue 64 on Nov. 2016 ballot
Please vote “Against the Ordinance” on Issue 64

Reality check: costs to taxpayers

A vote against Issue 64 won’t cost taxpayers. Why would it?

Lakewood can’t be saddled with debt, because Lakewood Hospital was not in debt. Nor will the city be required to run Lakewood Hospital at a loss. The hospital was never taxpayer-subsidized in more than 100 years, and in fact made consistent profits that benefited the community up until the last year of Cleveland Clinic management.

Voting against Issue 64 won’t land the city with huge legal bills, either. Fighting over Lakewood Hospital in court has actually been the choice of the groups who support 64, again and again.

In this and other ways, the Issue 64 plan is the real drain on Lakewood’s finances and taxpaying public.

  • The deal up for a vote exchanges $120 million in public assets for less than $40 million in return. What’s called “investment” is just leftovers from hospital assets that we already owned.
  • The complete impact of closing Lakewood Hospital will remove nearly $300 million from our local economy, every year.
  • The Issue 64 health center is a boondoggle that keeps running up additional bills, most paid by the Lakewood public.

To keep Lakewood financially strong in the years ahead, we should vote against Issue 64.

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Reality Check: Economic Impact

In 2015, Lakewood CPA Marguerite Harkness presented city council with the only current economic impact study on Lakewood Hospital. In cooperation with other experienced professionals among Save Lakewood Hospital membership, Harkness concluded that our hospital’s total contribution to Lakewood’s economy was nearly $300 million per year.

No one else, whether Lakewood government or hospital trustees or paid consultants, has prepared any alternative study. But is there any independent corroboration of this estimate? And what does it mean, now, with the hospital currently closed and a public vote pending?

In fact, there is another source that supports the results of Harkness’s study—the Cleveland Clinic’s own 2015 Economic Impact Report.

According to an archived news release from the Cleveland Clinic, its total contribution to Ohio’s economy was $12.6 billion in 2013. The same press release notes that the Clinic directly employed more than 48,000 people in Ohio.

Dividing $12.6B by 48,000 results in an economic impact of $260,000 per employee. Lakewood Hospital employed around 1,100 people.

The full economic impact of 1,100 hospital employees, based on the Clinic’s report, is therefore $286,000,000. That’s within a few percent of the Save Lakewood Hospital study.

Meanwhile, both figures are annual figures. Losing the economic contribution of Lakewood Hospital won’t be a one-time problem which the city can simply deal with and move on from. If the hospital stays closed, and the most interested replacement operators remained locked out, that means Lakewood’s economy is hundreds of millions short of our potential, year after year.

The real cost of the Issue 64 plan is much bigger than the immediate cost. It’s the cost to our future.

To keep Lakewood strong today and in the future, vote against 64.

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Closing Lakewood Hospital may cost $300 million/year

On Monday, Save Lakewood Hospital chair Marguerite Harkness presented city council with a troubling warning about the economic impact of eliminating the city’s hospital.

Save Lakewood Hospital’s research and finance committees calculate that the hospital contributes more than $294 million to Lakewood, annually, far in excess of the city’s own estimates. Harkness modeled her report on an economic impact report prepared by the Iowa Hospital Association.

Harkness’s appearance has been reported by, here. Her complete presentation to council follows.

Author’s note: “As is typical, Council generously granted me only 3 minutes at the end of the meeting and cut me off mid-sentence. How are they going to learn about other options for saving the hospital, if they don’t allow educated citizens to present information to them?”Read More