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 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.
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.