Governor Lausche’s unused law has allowed Ohio city councils to create free hospitals since 1953

COLUMBUS, OH – Since October 1, 1953 any Ohio city council member could have introduced legislation to create a free hospital to care for residents that’s controlled by the director of public safety under Chapter 749 of Ohio’s Revised Code.   The 1953 law funded free hospitals with a simple property tax.  $1 a year for every $1000 in property value.  $50 a year on a $50,000 home.

Section 749.01 of Chapter 749 is specifically one of the state laws every elected municipal official swears to obey and enforce, but the majority haven’t read.   It’s why local politicians are looking to Congress and not to their own city councils for a low or no cost health care solution.

Chapter 749’s heading is “Hospitals.”  It exists in Title 7 of Ohio’s Revised Code that spells out every general law of the state municipal elected officials and employees are required to obey.

The heading for R.C. 749.01 is “Legislative authority may levy tax to compensate free public hospital.”  

“The legislative authority of each municipal corporation, annually, may levy and collect a tax not to exceed one mill on each dollar of the taxable property of the municipal corporation and pay the amount to a private corporation or association which maintains and furnishes a free public hospital for the benefit of the inhabitants of the municipal corporation, or not free except to such inhabitants as, in the opinion of a majority of the trustees of such hospital, are unable to pay. Such payment shall be compensation for the use and maintenance of such hospital. Without change or interference in the organization of such corporation or association, the legislative authority shall require the treasurer of such hospital, annually, to make a financial report setting forth all of the money and property which has come into its hands during the preceding year and the disposition thereof, together with any recommendations as to the future necessities of such hospital.”

The late U.S. Senator Harold Hitz Burton served as Cleveland’s mayor and worked with Congress to fund free, non-discriminatory hospitals.

The law was signed by Governor Frank Lausche who saw it as supporting the Hill-Burton Act of 1946 that carried the name of his mayoral predecessor, U.S. Senator Harold Hitz Burton.  Burton had led Cleveland as mayor before Lausche. Burton succesfully campaigned for the U.S. Senate before President Harry Truman appointed him to the U.S. Supreme Court and he sided with the majority in Brown v. Topeka Kansas Board of Education in 1954 after hearing from attorney Thurgood Marshall.

Congress enacted the Hospital Survey and Construction Act f 1946 (aka Hill-Burton Act) to fund the nationwide construction of new “non-discriminatory” hospitals that came with “free forever” health care for low-income Americans.  Congress added the specific following language as a condition of funding to make health care available to “all persons residing in the territorial area” of the facility and to make available “a reasonable volume of hospital services to persons unable to pay therefor.”

Burton had been a resident of East Cleveland who served on that city’s school board in 1927 before he relocated to Cleveland to lead it as mayor in 1935. Huron Hospital cared for East Cleveland residents during Burton’s time on the school board.  After service in the U.S. Senate, President Harry Truman appointed Burton to the U.S. Supreme Court Justice in 1945 where he heard attorney Thurgood Marshall’s Brown v. Topeka Kansas Board of Education in 1954 and sided with the Chief Justice Earl Warren majority.

A Government Office Accounting report to Congress revealed that between 1947 and 1970, nearly four billion dollars in federal funds was spent on hospitals and health facilities to fund nearly one-half million hospital beds.  

What exists today in Ohio is exactly the type of private, mafia-like and discriminatory hospital system Congress intended to avoid with Hill-Burton’s 1946 passage. Of the more than 7000 facilities receiving Hill-Burton funding, approximately 132 supported facilities remain across the USA according to Health Resources and Services Administration.

Gary Norton had no legal authority to enter an agreement with Cleveland Clinics Delos Cosgrove to close Huron Hospital and not a word of this information has ever been shared by the Plain Dealer or its alter ego.

Like Huron Hospital in East Cleveland many were “absorbed” by larger hospital corporations such as Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals and demolished for providing “non-profitable” care to the indigent Americans Congress intended them to serve.  Former Cleveland Clinic CEO Delos Cosgrove’s agreement with recalled ex-East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton in 2011 epitomized the type of mafia-like acts the 1946 Congress anticipated.   Burton knew “restrictive interests” would later seek to exclude segments of the U.S. population from health care access.

Cosgrove and his Cleveland Clinic board wanted Huron Hospital closed.  One of its board members was the Plain Dealer’s publisher, Terrence Egger. 

Egger’s reporters ignored the legislation East Cleveland city council enacted stripping Norton of the authority to negotiate an agreement with Cosgrove to close Huron Hospital in exchange for $20 million in 2011.  $12 million to the demolition company … Independence Excavating.  $8 million to an account Norton and not council controlled. 

Egger’s Plain Dealer also editorially-concealed all the behind-the-scenes lawlessness that went into closing and then demolishing the state’s #1 gunshot wound trauma center.  The demolition or shutting down of Cleveland hospitals like Huron Road, Mt. Sinai, St. Luke’s, the Negro-owned Forest City Hospital and others created today’s corporate-controlled monopolies and health care inequities Ohio’s 1953 law intended to prevent.

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.


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