Hospital board seats targeted - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Hospital board seats targeted

Kootenai County Reagan Republics seek non-partisan spots

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Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - A local Republican group is gearing up to aggressively campaign for two seats on the Kootenai Hospital District Board of Trustees - seats that largely have gone uncontested for decades.

"When I ran for the board, we didn't even have to hold an election because I was uncontested," said Leise Razzeto, the only incumbent in a field of four candidates vying for the two positions.

In fact, she said, the only contested race that she can recall drew about 70 votes countywide. Even then, those voting were typically involved somehow in the medical community.

"I would say there is definitely a change in the landscape now," she added.

According to Jeff Ward, of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans, the days of uncontested elections - even in the smallest nonpartisan taxing district races - are over.

"These taxing districts control hundreds of millions of tax dollars," he said. "This is public money we are talking about, and they are making decisions on how this money is spent."

Ward wants to make sure these boards have a conservative voice.

His group has yet to officially endorse any candidates for the hospital race, but Ward said two of the candidates - Donna Montgomery and Jim Pierce - are members of his group. Pierce sits on the Reagan Republicans' board of directors.

Pierce, a banker with Washington Trust Bank, is out of town and could not be reached for comment.

But Montgomery, a former small business owner, said she is running to ensure the hospital is using sound business principles, and to make sure a conservative approach is considered in the decision making.

"They need a different voice on the board," she said. "And I am a hand-up instead of a hand-out type of person."

As a volunteer for her church, Montgomery said she spends a considerable amount of time at the hospital, and she has learned a lot from talking with hospital staff over the years.

"I have heard that a number of doctors have recently left the hospital," she said. " And I would like to prevent more of them from leaving."

In part, that is one of the reasons Dr. Neil Nemec jumped in the race. He said a number of oncology doctors have left recently and he personally respects every one of them.

"I don't know all of the details because I am not on the board," he said. "But there is always at least two sides to the story and I've only heard one."

Nemec, who is a primary care family doctor, said he is pleased with direction of the current board and has tremendous faith in the administration's ability to run the hospital in these very complex times.

He explained that regulatory mandates such as the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, and the state healthcare exchange that was passed by the Idaho Legislature last month are going to take some expertise to implement, without damaging the community's healthcare delivery system in the process.

"The future of healthcare delivery is very complex right now, and there are no rules," Nemec said, adding that a newcomer to these issues will be hard pressed to catch up. "And we don't have a lot of time to play catch up here."

Both Nemec and Razzeto were concerned that some candidates may be running for purely ideological reasons, and they feel that has the potential to cause undue damage to the healthcare delivery system in Kootenai County.

"This absolutely should be nonpartisan," Nemec said. "When it comes to healthcare, we should leave all of the politics at the door."

Ward said the Reagan Republicans have specifically targeted the hospital district for fiscal and policy reasons.

He concedes the hospital has not raised taxes since 1995, but said that also poses other problems. In Idaho when a taxing district doesn't take its allowable 3 percent in property taxes each year, the district builds up a surplus of taxing authority, known as foregone taxes. The hospital district has accumulated nearly $13 million in foregone taxes.

"That just keeps on ballooning up," Ward said. "They could levy those taxes at any time."

Razzeto said the current board has a very long conservative history of not raising taxes, and she is confident the board has absolutely no intention to levy its foregone taxes.

"In fact, if I could forego foregone taxes, I would do it in a minute," the incumbent said. "Honestly we spend about 30 seconds out of 250 hours of work per year to vote no on raising taxes."

She said it concerns her that a candidate may be running simply to have his or her say on a 30-second issue.

"What are they going to do for the other 250 hours - that's what worries me," she said

Nemec said he would take the same conservative position as Razzeto's on the taxes. Montgomery would as well.

Ward said members of his group are also concerned about the hospital's advocacy on policy issues such as the Affordable Care Act, and the state healthcare exchange.

"The hospital is a huge business in this community," he said. "It shouldn't be using its political power and public money to promote healthcare policy."

Ward said Jon Ness, CEO of the hospital, has been vocal in his support for creating a statewide healthcare exchange, which his group is opposed to, and he said the hospital has also been supportive of certain elements of "Obamacare."

Razzeto said even if an ideological candidate is elected to the board, he or she will find that the board doesn't play a role at all in policy development for the hospital. The board, she added, is focused on governance and making sure the community's healthcare needs are met.

"The hospital is a community asset, and we are the stewards of that asset," she said.

The top two vote-getters in the election will win the seats available.

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  • Peter posted at 7:20 pm on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Peter Posts: 691

    How are our lives as free as they were 50 years ago?

    No not as regulated as they were back in the "golden years". No more Jim Crowe laws and tax rate of 90% for the name a few things between the period of 1950-1963. And no "god" in the pledge until 1954.

  • Peter posted at 7:12 pm on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Peter Posts: 691

    Peter, so you find that Americans who support our great Nation's founding ideals "creepy and backwards"?

    No Curt, just the zealots who claim to know the words of our founding fathers as absolute. Because we all know Siths only deal in absolutes.

    And speaking of stupid and uninformed comments, yes I have. A nice little breakfast at the International House of Pancakes a while ago. And yes, "these people" are far more to the right than Reagan. Ironic that their saviour could not get past a primary with only the fringe voting in the primaries.

  • babydriver posted at 1:23 pm on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    babydriver Posts: 1393

    I wish we could solve all of our problems, but we cannot.

    If our 'Leaders' would just leave us alone, each answerable only to God, our lives here would be so much better. Not perfect but definitely better.

    How are our lives as free as they were 50 years ago? They are not. Nearly every aspect of our lives is regulated. The founders fought against 'taxation without representation'. What we have in this day is infinitely worse.

    We fight against powers and principalities that are mostly hidden from us. These same powers divide
    us, speak mostly lies to us and cause disunion at every opportunity. Those 'opportunities' are 24 hours a day.

    We who wish our problems solved cannot do it. The problems have grown beyond human management.

    Let them that wish to hear, hear. Seek understanding and wisdom. His name is Jesus.

  • Thaddeus posted at 6:17 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Thaddeus Posts: 232

    The doctors aren't leaving because of the board, they're leaving because of the politics of sub-humanoids like the RR's and their politics. Can't Blame the doctors. They've figured out that Darwin was right and are leaving to let nature take it's course.

  • Curt Slade posted at 9:42 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Curt Slade Posts: 57

    Peter, so you find that Americans who support our great Nation's founding ideals "creepy and backwards"? Have you ever even been to an RR meeting?? Why don't you do a little personal investigating before leaving stupid and uninformed comments. "These people"? YOU sound like a real closed-minded creep.

  • Peter posted at 8:38 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Peter Posts: 691

    Fringe...These people have such a creepy and backwards agenda. "When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross."

  • CHSdad posted at 4:57 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    CHSdad Posts: 383

    I've been following HBO for a couple of years now and have never seen Jeff trash anyone. I've seen plenty of trashing of public officials in the CDA Press, though. I notice that you still didn't come up with anything in the article that is inaccurate.

  • Good_Ole_Mitt_Romney posted at 3:42 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Good_Ole_Mitt_Romney Posts: 183

    Yep, their going to kill that off too in Idaho. What a messed up state.

  • apathoid posted at 3:41 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    apathoid Posts: 211

    One can easily see the bias in the article unless that bias represents your point of view...which based on your previous posts it clearly does.

    On the other hand, the "Bent" of my comment is only to point out that I don't consider a writer who trashes elected officials on blogs to be a "journalist" and I'm disappointed to see a biased bi-line above the fold on the front page...

  • voxpop posted at 3:41 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Republicans want to prevent an educated society and let business special interests run roughshod over every living thing in Idaho. Democrats want us all to go back to living in caves, walk wherever we go, and live on only that which we can grow in the ground without any pesticides. The 80% of us in the middle want to enjoy our lives and watch our kids grow up happy. We should round up the left and right 10% and help them self-deport to the back side of the moon.

  • Humanist posted at 1:29 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Humanist Posts: 3224

    Nothing partisan to see here. Move along now.........

  • Gary Ingram posted at 12:18 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Gary Ingram Posts: 97

    Incumbent trustee Razzato is quoted in this article as saying that..." the board doesn't play a role at all in policy development for the hospital." Ummm. I thought that's what boards do. She definitely needs to be questioned more on what she believes is the role a board member. Or is being a rubber stamp the norm at this institution?

    Additionally, the exodus of quite a number of doctors in recent months from the hospital group practices that were formed over the last few years certainly needs to be discussed.

  • CHSdad posted at 11:23 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    CHSdad Posts: 383

    Was there anything in the article that was inaccurate or are you just trying to trash the reporter because of your own bias?

  • Curt Slade posted at 11:22 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Curt Slade Posts: 57

    Mister d, you say if the RR's get people elected to the board we'll "really watch doctors leave" as if the doctors that have been leaving, not to mention the loss of the specialized oncology inpatient unit hasn't already been happening. Somebody needs to step in and stop the blood letting before our medical services go to pot thanks to Obamacare. The fact that the CEO of KMC supports that giant disaster of a health law known as The Affordable Care Act, convinces me that he's going to require some counter balance on that board.

  • mister d posted at 9:04 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    lola, I agree. if we want the hospital board to end up like the local school board and have the ridiculous strife and really watch doctors leave the RR's will certainly do that. I want well educated medically oriented individuals on the board, not some individuals with a political slant that takes us back to the dark ages. Nemic is a fine professional and will lead well as has the current board member running for reelection. They both will continue to oversee the fine financial responsibility the hospital board has shown over the many years.

  • ProIdaho posted at 8:21 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    ProIdaho Posts: 265

    You are confused. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will make sure that we all get worse access to healthcare due to doctor shortages and rationing...............................all with the wonderful bonus of skyrocketing taxes!!!!

    Yeah!! Socialized medicine!

  • lola123 posted at 7:49 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    lola123 Posts: 352

    Yes elect a reagan republican and we save tones of tax dollars by going back to blood-letting and leaches as a cure all. We don't need good doctors or health care here in North Idaho. Let's close the schools too.

  • apathoid posted at 7:41 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    apathoid Posts: 211

    One week back at a "real" job and you've already let HBO trash master Selle write an "article" about those pesky Reagan Republicans and their antics. Shame on you aren't even TRYING to hide your bias this year.

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