Voters Won't Decide Future of Memorial Hospital in April

By: KKTV Email
By: KKTV Email

Colorado Springs' voters will not decide the future of Memorial Health System in April after all. The Mayor's Task Force has decided to postpone the ballot question until next November.

City council was supposed to vote Tuesday on the proposal to make Memorial a nonprofit.

"It doesn't necessarily help us inside health care to wait, but if it gives the community more time, we think that's a healthy thing and we're supportive of that," said Dr. Larry McEvoy, Memorial Healthy System's CEO.

McEvoy says he wants to educate voters over the next few months, so they better understand the risks and benefits of transferring Memorial Hospital from a city entity to a nonprofit.

"One of the things we heard from the board is there's a need for people to explore this conversation further, and make sure it's something they believe in and want to support in terms of Colorado Springs future," McEvoy said.

The Mayor's Task Force has also learned that PERA, the retirement organization for Memorial employees, says if Memorial were to change ownership and become anything other than a city enterprise, PERA wants to be paid roughly $246 million.

A Memorial Hospital spokesperson says that number is more than ten times what the hospital estimated it might owe the public pension organization.

"There is no way Memorial can absorb $245 million dollars to PERA's opt out, and then continue to be a strong financial organization as a new nonprofit," said Mayor Rivera.

Memorial Hospital plans to work closely with PERA in the coming months to come up with a solution.

Memorial Hospital released the following Monday:

On Monday, the Mayor’s Task Force responsible for helping Memorial to become an independent nonprofit learned that PERA, the retirement organization for Memorial employees, expects to be owed roughly $246 million if Memorial were to change ownership and become anything other than a city enterprise. This number is ten times greater than the highest estimates of what it might owe the public pension organization.

This news is not driving the decision by the task force to postpone a
ballot initiative to November. The task force made that decision in order to better inform the community about what is being proposed. The group concluded that

more time was needed to explain what a community nonprofit is, the value it can provide, and why a change is necessary for Memorial's long-term viability.

Memorial believes the legal and actuarial assumptions that PERA used in reaching its calculation require additional diligence and examination, and we will be working closely with PERA in coming months in search of a workable resolution. We remain hopeful that, with more time, this issue will be resolved and a proposal to make Memorial into a community nonprofit will be put to voters in the November election.

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