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Times editorial insulting

What a disappointment it was to read The Times daily editorial of Friday, July 18, regarding Aspen Valley Hospital’s annexation to the city.The Times failed to present an accurate account of hospital/city negotiations, which is no surprise, as they neglected to contact any member of the hospital board or administration for information. This letter is written to present the other side of the story.First, we’d like to make it clear that the health-care discount for city employees is a benefit reaped by the city, not its individual employees. The city is self-insured; therefore, the lower the cost for its employees’ health care, the lower the city’s costs. This, in turn, reduces the taxpayers’ costs for providing this employee benefit.Second, the vast majority of citizens and visitors to our community receive a discount for hospital services. In fact, a discount was already present for city employees; it has simply been increased in order to partially offset annexation costs to the city. Our seniors are discounted through Medicare; indigents through Medicaid; and other employees, residents and visitors through their managed-care insurance plan.Now, let’s look at the order of magnitude involved. AVH’s total charges for patient services in 2002 were $59 million. Charges for indigent and Medicaid patients were $1 million each and almost $8 million for Medicare patients. City employee charges were $91,000. A 15 percent discount on those charges is less than $14,000. This represents .02 percent of our annual billing.Finally, the AVH board is comprised of volunteers elected by the citizens of the hospital district. Our fiduciary responsibility is taken seriously. We unanimously believe that improvements to the hospital’s physical plant are essential, and that these improvements can best be made under the auspices of the city. Just as we have a responsibility to act on behalf of our constituents, the city has a responsibility to act on behalf of theirs. There was a lot of give and take on both sides, and, in the end, an ethical and responsible agreement was reached, all to better serve the community. In addition to the health-care discount, AVH made a significant offer to the city of $100,000 toward improvements to the intersection of Castle Creek Road and Doolittle Drive, as well as in-kind benefits of health-education and early-detection programs. To have been accused of bribery and unethical behavior is insulting at best, and slanderous at worst. Please do your homework next time.John Sarpa, John Jellinek, Bob D’Alessio, Elaine Gerson, Morris Cohen, M.D.Aspen Valley Hospital BoardEditor’s note: The editorial board reviewed numerous documents regarding negotiations between the hospital and the city leading up to the annexation agreement. We stand by what was stated in the editorial.


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