In 2006 over 94 percent of Maple Valley voters chose “no” during the infamous attempt by Valley Medical to annex Maple Valley into their taxing district. If that vote had passed it would have increased local homeowner’s taxes by approximately $250 per home. I and most others in the community worked to stop that unasked-for expansion of Valley Medical into Maple Valley.
Since then Swedish Hospital has explored opening an emergency center in Maple Valley – and Multicare has steadily increased its size in Covington. As Swedish and Multicare are both nonprofit versus Valley Medical being a public hospital taxing district – there is no increased cost to area taxpayers if Swedish and Multicare expand. But wait, Valley Medical is now looking for ways to block Swedish and Multicare from further expansion. That might be good for Valley Medical profits, but it isn’t good for residents of SE King County.
I attended the Valley Medical Center Hospital Commission meeting on Oct. 5th. I had been concerned about the recent media reports about the very unusual, and attempted quiet, payment of $1.73 million retirement to their CEO, years before he will retire. This is unheard of for a public official, especially considering he is probably the highest paid public official in the State and how secretively the payment was done. Bravo to the State Auditor’s Office and our former city manager (and new hospital commissioner) Anthony Hemstad for spotlighting this poor use of public health care taxes.
During the meeting Valley Medical officials also talked about their plans to potentially establish an emergency center in Covington. This seems to be an attempt to block Swedish and Multicare from further expansion into the potentially lucrative Covington-Maple Valley market. Valley Medical is using their $25M a year revenue from property taxes to bully away free market competition. Multicare is doing a good job in Covington and we’re looking forward to Swedish doing so in Maple Valley. We need Valley Medical to play fair in southeast King County.