METAIRIE, La - There are new developments in the search for a private partner for Jefferson Parish's two public hospitals.
JP Council Chairman Chris Roberts is questioning property tax estimates in Health Corporation of America's bid to lease the hospitals. The East Jefferson Hospital Board and at least two JP council members are pushing for HCA to get the 30-year, $1 billion contract.
According to Roberts, HCA's property tax estimates of $188 million would require over $10 billion in investment over the 30-year contract.
"This clearly is not the commitment," said Roberts. "The fact that this exaggerated figure went uncontested this far into the process is concerning." HCA released a statement in support of its numbers.
"HCA estimates that the total property taxes paid over the term of the lease will be in excess of $300 million," said an HCA spokesman. "We stand by these numbers and believe the numbers speak for themselves."
Friday, Jefferson Parish Attorney Deborah Foshee sent a letter to the parish's hospital consultant Kaufman Hall, asking the firm to help verify HCA's claims.
"On behalf of the Jefferson Parish Council, the Governing Authority of the three hospital districts, I am requesting that your firm obtain from HCA the data and assumptions being made to project that HCA will pay $188 million in property tax," Foshee wrote.
HCA also released a statement from its research consultant the Altus Group Limited.
According to Altus, "Based on our review, we have determined that HCA's estimate of the real and property tax is a reasonable approximation of the amount that would be paid over a 30-year period."
Roberts expects more to come out on this issue as early as today. "The media will be provided documentation proving the HCA property tax statements are grossly exaggerated," said Roberts.
Roberts supports the West Jefferson Medical Center Board's choice of Louisiana Children's Medical Center to run the hospitals.