Sequoia Healthcare District

Minority Report

Jack Hickey, Elected Member of the Board

Presented to San Mateo County Board of Supervisors 9/14/2010(Video)

In 1946 voters established the Sequoia Hospital District, generally comprising the area from the southern San Mateo County line to northern Belmont, to maintain a tax-supported hospital with the understanding there would be future bond issues to build and add to the hospital. In 1947 the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors assessed those district taxpayers a total amount of $46,578. The hospital opened in 1950.

Art Faro was CEO of Sequoia Hospital when they ran up a $29,000,000 deficit which led to a voter approved bailout sale of the hospital in 1996.

In 1996 the voters of the district approved Measure H that, among other things, sold some assets of the district, including the hospital, to Catholic HealthCare West (CHW), a private non-profit organization. By this sale, maintenance of the hospital became the responsibility of CHW.

I am mindful of the praise afforded CHW by Britschgi, Uccelli, et al, proponents of Measure H in 1996. They said "CHW provides free healthcare for poor and uninsured patients, contributing $129 million in uncompensated community benefits last year. In 1995, CHW gave $57 million in grants and gifts to the communities where its facilities are located. CHW reinvests all profits from its hospitals back to the community, not to corporate investors."

Today, tax revenues and other district revenues are being directed by the Sequoia Health Care District Board in great part to charitable activities within the district but not in significant part to the purposes described in Measure H or the 1946 ballot measure.

The 2001-2002 Grand Jury found “… that District taxpayers should be made aware that the 1946 measure authorizing the tax assessment was for the construction, maintenance, and operation of a hospital, but that the District no longer owns, maintains, or operates a hospital.”

The Grand Jury also found “… that since the sale of the hospital the District has assumed a role similar to that of a philanthropic foundation, using its tax revenues to make grants to other government and non-profit agencies. This is a function of the District that was never presented to the voters for their approval under 1996 Measure H.”

This was the scenario that led to my election to the Sequoia Healthcare District Board in November 2002. I am minority member of the board.

In 2003, this District was on a fast track to relocate Sequoia Hospital. My referendum effort derailed that move. This community asset is now being renovated by CHW at its historical site.

My plans for the District call for:

    Annual reductions in property tax collection;

    An end to “false philanthropy” handouts;

    Elimination of public relations "branding" activity($50,000/year);

    Elimination of Board member's health insurance($75,000/year);

    Cancellation of association memberships($35,000/year);

    More appropriate funding of the Nurse Program by the Nurses Union and Hospital Consortium($1,000,000);

    Transferring the Heartsafe program to a nonprofit agency funded by manufacturers of defibrillators, the insurance industry and charitable contributions.

    An end to the “back door” bailout of school districts($1,500,000)

    An end to the $1,000,000 grants to the Sequoia Hospital Foundation

    An end to the $1.35 Million grants to CHI, which currently provides health insurance for families with incomes 4 times the Federal Poverty level

    An orderly shut-down of the District.