Doctors Hospital: The canary in the coal mine

There’s a lot of hullabaloo over Doctors Hospital and the recently failed parcel tax in West County. The buzz, though, is doing Contra Costa Taxpayers one big favor: Doctors Hospital is the dead canary in the coal mine that warns us that the future of the entitlement society and irresponsible government spending in Contra Costa County.

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once famously said, “socialism works until you run out of other people’s money”. Hello, Doctors Hospital. West County residents have run out of money. 

Now what?

Unfortunately, with its current budget, Contra Costa County—given its own $3.2 BILLION unfunded liability for pensions and health care—can’t step in and rescue another irresponsible institution. 

And the State of California with its $340 billion in debt and unfunded liabilities is unavailable right now, but leave a message and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can. 

The people of California are running out of the willingness and ability to pay for exorbitant government just as pension costs are going up by 50% and ObamaCare is just beginning its run at our Treasury.

But don’t fear, there are dozens of failing institutions to take what is left of our “spendable income.” Oh we lucky few!

It’s not enough that we are paying hundreds of millions of dollars more this year to bail out State and local government pensions, we may get to bailout the Detroit, Michigan pension system too.

That’s right; Detroit unions are demanding at least $100 million from the Obama administration to save the city of Detroit’s failed pension system. This means Californians, get to help pay for a corrupt and irresponsible out of State city government and its corrupt and irresponsible unions’ “mistakes” over the past several decades.

Back in California, ObamaCare is making Doctors hospital condition worse and brings to a head another administration lie. Told that Uncle Sam would pay for all additional Medicaid (MediCal in California) in California, the Governor’s new budget includes an additional $1.2 Billion as our share of the debacle. And we still don’t know how much the subsidized Covered California health policies are going to cost taxpayers.

The warning sirens in the Dystopia called California are getting louder and louder. 

We ignored Vallejo’s bankruptcy and are trying to ignore Stockton’s and San Bernardino’s. 

Our Fire Districts, unable to pass parcel taxes or new bonds, are now running one last “game” on us with “benefit assessment district” proposals (the City of San Ramon is being sued for their proposed district).

Teachers and school district pension contributions are climbing from 8% to more than 10% this year and rising each year for four more at least four more years and will be double the current rate districts have to pay for teacher pensions.

The drumbeat of more taxes is already rising from Sacramento. Democrat Senators Leno, Steinberg and others are already calling for the “temporary tax” passed in the last election be made permanent.  Changes to Proposition 13 are making their way through the legislature. Calls for more “social justice” rise from the capitol almost every day.

In Contra Costa County, Supervisor Gioia proposes a sales tax to cover increasing red ink throughout the County for Public Safety (code for the bankrupt fire district), Emergency Services (code word for Doctors Hospital and the County Health System, and Sheriff.

But first, actions more drastic than the Governor has taken need to be put in-place. 

We must attack the $200 plus billion that the Legislative Analyst says “merits further legislative attention” out of the current $340 billion of debt on the books. There can be no more Doctors Hospitals.

Editor’s Note: DMC image courtesy Richmond Pulse. No canaries were harmed in the making of the post.

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Comments

  1. Dan Romero says

    The supervisors now wanting to take action on DMC is too little too late. Will the Supervisors know that DMC needs to be rebuilt, the hospital is over 50 years old. The state is requiring that the facility be EQ retrofitted. The unions could have cooperated with the Hospital district when it came to benefit concessions but held firm which put the hospital into further debt. The management of the hospital has been suspect, with claims now coming from the nurses union of mismanagement. DMC serves more county medical recipients than private insurance carriers. But the management of the hospital should not go onto the backs of all the Contra Costa residents with a general tax. The answer is that the County should have a county hospital in West County but not DMC. The facility is too old and too large to maintain.

    • says

      Thanks, Dan for your input. What you are saying, in other words, is that Doctors hospital is the VA, if not worse. No socialized healthcare system can survive without long lines, cheating by employees and a failure to deliver good care. We can keep trying these models, but they all fail. Someone ultimately must pay for the services. It is pretty simple.

  2. Mark Howe says

    The current measure H campaign is exposing the same sort of big labor waste that we saw with Doctors Medical Center. Bottomline big labor will have to live in the taxpayers world where employees only get 401K pensions and people get paid what the market will bear not what can be extracted out of taxpayers by bought and paid for political representatives. Public employees need to be paid the same amount they would be paid in the private sector. For the most part taxpayers work in the private sector and are just discovering they are being treated like chumps. 250 years ago they called it a tea party.

  3. rich eber says

    This is an excellent insightful article that has my nomination for Hal to receive a well deserved local Pulitzer Prize nomination. He is right. One government agency that being the County should not be bailing out another one that is not contributing to fund their own medical program,

    I was under the impression from the proponents of Obama Care that their program would solve everything and rest of us could ride our chariots of good fortune into the sunset.

    Apparently not!

    Recently, with what are termed the “systemic failures” in the administration of Veterans (VA) Hospitals, the Federal Government struggles to run anything other than its patients into the ground. If this is as I fear a preview of coming attractions with the Affordable Care Act, we might want to contemplate euthanasia to avoid the pain which is sure to follow.

    Thanks Hall for putting this all in perspective .for us.

    • says

      Absolutely correct Mark. And ObamaCare will make the Doctors Hospital problem worse and we don’t know yet what it will cost us a California or U.S. taxpayers. Public Sector pensions and exorbitant salaries are already costing us far more than they should and government agencies hide the costs to taxpayers. My city, Brentwood, raised our utility fees 3.5% per year for each of the next 5 years (a total of more than 17.5%) because they said they need the money to do maintenance, repairs and upgrades on the system, but the truth is their pension costs are going up by approximately 50%, which they hide, and take the money they would use for maintenance, repairs, etc.

      CalPERS (State employees and some cities) is raising its pension costs approximately 50% over the next five years. CalSTRS (teacher pensions) costs are skyrocketing over the same period. Last year teacher pension costs were spread among employees ((8%), employers school districrts (8.3%) and the State (3%). Next year the costs are 10% contribution for employees, 19.1% for school districts and 6% for the state. And this increase will only cover a small percentage of the unfunded liability in the pension plan. Expect to see a lot of crying by teachers and school districts and demands for new taxes to pay for higher salaries to cover the new costs.

      We are in for a massive increase in the cost of government to cover these new pension costs. The City of San Ramon is being sued for hiding their pension costs and trying to pass a new “benefit assessment district” to pay for ongoing operations. It is going to be a volatile 5 years; get ready to fight or get ready to be financially raped.