As Jackson Health System ends the fiscal year in the black — hurray! — and expects a surplus, to boot, the Miami-Dade Commission will consider whether to make Jackson’s Financial Recovery Board a permanent oversight body instead of returning to the cumbersome 17-member Public Health Trust.
What’s to consider? The recovery board — made up of community leaders with expertise in healthcare, accounting, financing and other key attributes needed to move nimbly in difficult terrain — has done a yeoman’s job under intense public scrutiny.
Credit should go to Chairman Joe Martinez, who pushed for the recovery board almost two years ago when it became clear that the Health Trust couldn’t move quickly enough to make the needed changes at Miami-Dade County’s public hospital system to stop the financial bleeding.
Now some commissioners want to change this board to include two or more new members and union leadership. Others want to make sure members of the board are committed to keeping Jackson’s public mission.
Let’s be clear. The board has worked precisely because it’s small enough that it can call a quorum quickly when needed to address changing issues. Earmarking a spot for organized labor is just commissioners playing political payback, when they should be looking at what’s best for the entire community, not any one specific special interest.
And let’s not forget: It was commissioners’ meddling through the years that helped create much of the mess Jackson has faced, as commissioners rejected Public Health Trust decisions on compensation for Jackson workers in an effort to please the unions that help get out the vote for those commissioners during elections. That’s no way to run any institution, public or private.
Unions have a right to make their case to management and negotiate contracts, but setting policy prescriptions for what ails Jackson should remain the purview of a specialized board of community representatives with no direct financial interest in the outcome, period.
Commissioners will get their say on Tuesday. They should turn the recovery board into the “new” and vastly improved Trust, with no more than seven members with, say, a limit of service of six years, and require that those who want to serve must have the professional expertise that’s crucial to Jackson’s future.