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News from the Michigan Nurses Association
Contact: Roger Kerson, 734.645.0535
Michigan Nurses Launch Radio Ads in Detroit and Dallas
Shame on Tenet Health Care, Caregivers Say, for Breaking Promise with 98% Cut in Charity Care Spending
DETROIT – “Shame on Tenet Health Care” is the message of radio ads released today in Detroit and Dallas by the Michigan Nurses Association. The advertisements inform the public that executives at Tenet Detroit Medical Center (Tenet DMC) cut spending on charity care by 98 percent between 2013 and 2016.
“Executives in Dallas have abandoned needy patients in Detroit,” said Sara Wallenfang, MNA’s associate executive director for professional and member relations. “Tenet pledged to remember the needy when they bought DMC in 2013. They have either forgotten their promise – or they never intended to keep it in the first place.”
“Show us the numbers,” said Charles Thomas, a Detroit resident and board member of Michigan United, a community organization based in Detroit and Kalamazoo. “It’s a shame what this company in Texas has done to the city of Detroit. If Tenet has a different story to tell, they’ve got to show us an audit, not a blank page on a website.”
As a condition of its purchase of Detroit Medical Center, Tenet DMC is required to maintain existing policies on charity care and report annually to Legacy DMC, a body of physicians and community leaders. The annual report includes an exhibit on “Indigent and Low Income Care.” It is posted as a single sheet on the website of Michigan’s Attorney General, blank except for a title and this statement: “All information in this Exhibit A is confidential information and may not be disclosed to the public.”
According to publicly-available data submitted by Tenet DMC to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), however, charity care spending at the company’s acute care hospitals in the Detroit area dropped by 98 percent from 2013 to 2016.
In 2013 – the year DMC was acquired by Dallas-based Tenet Health Care – DMC spent $22.9 million on charity care in acute care facilities. Three years later, according to reports filed by Tenet DMC with CMS, that figure had dropped by 98 percent, to just $474,000.
“We worked hard to get a commitment, in writing, that charity care would still be available in our community when the Detroit Medical Center was sold to a private, for-profit company,” said Marjorie Mitchell, Executive Director of the Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network (MICHUHCAN). “It’s alarming to see that Tenet DMC has reduced their spending to near zero. That certainly doesn’t match the need in our community; in the city of Detroit alone, we have nearly 50,000 people without health insurance.”
MNA first released data on the dramatic decline in Tenet DMC’s spending on charity care last month, with specific citations to data compiled by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Tenet responded with a press release containing no sources or citations. The company has also declined to make available its report on “Indigent and Low Income Care,” as filed with Legacy DMC.
“Nurses in Michigan believe every person deserves health care, regardless of income,” said Wallenfang. “We’re taking this message to the airwaves because the public has a right to know when a major health care provider like Tenet DMC is failing to help those who need it most.”
The “Shame on Tenet” radio ads and scripts available here: http://bit.ly/TenetRadio
Nurses at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, a 158-bed facility in Commerce Township that is part of Tenet DMC, voted to form a union as an affiliate of the Michigan Nurses Association in March of 2016. Huron Valley nurses, who are in the process of negotiating a first contract agreement with Tenet DMC, have identified safe staffing and quality patient care as top bargaining priorities.
The Professional Nurses Association of Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital (PNA-HVSH) represents 350 RNs at Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital. The Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) is the largest, most effective union for registered nurses in Michigan, advocating for nurses and their patients at the State Capitol, in the community, and at the bargaining table.