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Legacy Board seeks DMC extension for charity care


Karen Bouffard   | The Detroit News

The private Detroit Medical Center is being asked to continue providing charity care after its commitments expire at year's end by the board charged with overseeing the DMC's promises to the community. 

The Legacy DMC Board made the announcement Thursday after expressing disappointment this year with how the eight-hospital system was fulfilling its promises. The board was appointed by then-Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox in 2011 to ensure that covenants made as part of the then-nonprofit health system's purchase by a for-profit hospital chain were fulfilled. 

"“It is essential that DMC continue their commitment to maintain a patient friendly approach to indigent and low-income care across the metro area and we look forward to seeing the new and innovative ways they seek to improve upon that care as a result of these negotiations,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Thursday in a press release from Legacy DMC Board. 

The DMC was purchased by the Tennessee-based, for-profit hospital chain Vanguard Health System Inc. in 2011. Covenants included in the purchase agreement passed to Tenet HealthCare Corp. in 2013 when it bought the DMC from Vanguard.

The 20 covenants included promises to invest millions of dollars in capital improvements to the health system's eight hospitals and continuation of the DMC's historic commitments to teaching, research and health care for Detroit's indigent and low-income residents.  

“The Detroit Medical Center is proud of its historical and ongoing commitment to the Detroit community, including to those in need," the health system said in a Thursday statement. "Over the last 10 years, the DMC has transformed from a struggling institution to being a stable pillar of health care in our community. 

"This has happened with a more generous charity and uncompensated care policy than existed before the DMC became a private entity. The current policy was selected by the combination of the Legacy Board and the DMC working together," the health system's statement continued. "The Legacy Board’s monitoring has confirmed that we have fully and continually met our obligations under that policy. 

"We look forward to working with the Legacy Board, at their request as they wrap up their oversight period, to consider an appropriate policy for the future.  We will continue to stay true to our mission of providing the highest quality, most compassionate and safest health care to the people in the communities we serve.”

The oversight board noted in its Thursday release that the agreement requires the DMC to discuss continuing charity care beyond the expiration date, if requested by Legacy DMC.

Discussions about the extension will be led by Stephen D’Arcy, former chair of the nonprofit DMC board and a longtime community and business leader. D'Arcy will ask for input from state, city and county governments and community health providers, according to the press release. 

Others interested in providing input can send comments via email to LegacyDMChotline@gmail.com over the next 30 days.

“The safety net for charity care long provided by DMC’s hospitals has proven essential for our residents” Legacy Board Chairman Richard Widgren said.

“We appreciate that the Attorney General shares our view that this should be a priority for the DMC beyond Legacy’s term of oversight and look forward to Steve D’Arcy’s leadership and knowledge, as he steps forward to work with Tenet and the DMC on this effort.”

kbouffard@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @kbouffardDN