Some big questions about the PMC deal

By Jim Guthrie

Who won the Super Bowl 25 years ago? How about the World Series, Wimbledon, the Stanley Cup, anyone? Now, how many remember their favorite teachers? I see by the hands many do. Most of us have heard this very appropriate, point- making analogy during a speech or presentation. We all recognize that an intellectual compromise of mankind would occur if we failed to educate the next generation. 
I also remember how teachers, anxious for student interaction, would make these comments: questions are good, there is no such thing as a stupid question, and if you have questions others have them as well. With that in mind and after reading the PMC Letter of Intent I pose the following:
Paragraph 4 talks about a note payable from the capital partner to the CBO for $141,378,500. Paragraph 8.a suggests anything more than $150 million to build the new hospital will require the foundation to pony up their 23 percent. If the new facility costs $250 million as originally projected it appears the foundation’s share of the debt would exceed $55 million. Is that correct?

Paragraph 8.a mentions any loan to the foundation by the capital partner would be at reasonable rates. Sounds broad and uncertain, and if the foundation elects not to borrow money its percentage of ownership goes down accordingly. Can we be reassured Legacy won’t be eager to “spend” its way to an 81 percent ownership and board control position?
Paragraph 8.o is relative to the sale of the west campus and how it will affect the percentage of foundation ownership. It talks about using an imputed value. Will that value be identified, realistic and disclosed before the vote? 

Maintenance of the 23 percent foundation ownership hinges critically on the ability to sell the west campus at or above that imputed value and for the new facility to make enough profit to retire the debt. Only a 3 percent margin of error separates somewhat equal control from essentially no control. Are safeguards in place so that the 23 percent foundation share survives the first few difficult years most new ventures face?    

Paragraph 8.c indicates employees would be leased to the CBO by the capital partner. Is there a profit margin or other motives driving this idea?

Legacy has positioned themselves as both capital and CBO partner. Coupled with the aforementioned leasing of employees, can you assure us their mission statement is one driven by delivery of quality health care and not primarily by return on investment? 
Whether the painfully slow process that moved this issue to a vote was by design or necessity is debatable. Maybe this effort truly does represent the bottom of the ninth homer to win the game it’s being touted as. Let’s hope so. I do believe most are anxious for closure but the deal has to fit. 
I’ve been reading that this partnership is being supported by doctors, administrators and board members. That’s good. The message between now and November must feature straight talk and details by those we trust, not crafty spin by costly consultants. 
While this issue is complicated, this county is intelligent. A quarter century from now I hope we all feel we were honestly and adequately educated about this decision of paramount county importance. Who knows, we may even be able to recall some of our favorite teachers. 
Jim Guthrie is a former Bannock County commissioner.