NORTHERN CALIFORNIA - Following weeks of prodding for information to no avail, Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, today asked the state's highest attorney to investigate the financial conduct of nonprofit Sutter Health, claiming "questionable business practices," including the transfer of millions from Marin General Hospital.
Alongside California Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, and several other colleagues, the legislator sent a letter to Attorney General Jerry Brown asking he probe a list of alleged abuses in several Northern California hospitals, including "misrepresentation of hospital finances, economic and medical redlining, abuse of nonprofit status, antitrust violations, questionable allocation of public assets and execution of contracts that may be in conflict with existing law."
Mr. Huffman sent two separate, widely publicized letters to Sutter over the past several months, asking for all paperwork related to the transfer of about $120 million from Marin General Hospital. Documents released earlier this summer showed the movement of about $48 million of Marin General profits in 2008 and $38.7 million in 2007, with smaller amounts in previous years.
Sutter board officials responded to the initial query, though indirectly, in a letter to the legislator in late July saying, "Sutter Health believes strongly that all affiliates (with the exception of philanthropic foundations) should be bound together in one common balance sheet."
The note did not address the request for "all documents that relate to the MGH board's role in reviewing, commenting upon, advising or approving these transfers," mentioned in Mr. Huffman's July 17 request.
He sent a follow-up letter pressing for answers Aug. 11.
In today's letter to the attorney general, he said, "In almost every community in which Sutter Health operates, a legal and public battle over their broken promises and questionable actions ensues ... we ask that you take immediate steps to intervene to determine whether Sutter has acted improperly."