Eden Health District CEO says Bonta wants dissolution solely for their assets, not reasons stated

Eden Health District CEO
Dev Mahadevan

EDEN HEALTH DISTRICT
Alameda County elected officials and two East Bay assemblymembers have asserted for the past year that the Eden Health District no longer provides health care grants for its central county residents and should be dissolved.

Eden Health District CEO Dev Mahadevan, though, claims elected officials merely want the jurisdiction’s holdings, including millions in land assets and revenue derived from medical offices it operates.

Following a public hearing last week in Castro Valley over the question of the Eden Health District’s future, Mahadevan said the elected health care board of directors finds it difficult to trust local officials when some of them have specifically stated their real intention for dismantling the district is a sole desire for its assets.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta

Mahadevan said Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Bill Quirk have both made candid remarks to him suggesting their public reasons for the district’s dissolution–the fact it no longer oversees a hospital and that its budget is top-heavy in administrative costs and not health care services–is not true and they instead, want its assets

According to Mahadevan, he questioned Bonta about the reasons for legislation he drafted last year to restrict the district’s operating budget. “This is my third attempt to get money from you,” Bonta reportedly told Mahadevan.

Mahadevan said he was surprised by Bonta’s response, thinking to himself, “Excuse me. Who’s working for who here?”

Later, when Mahadevan pressed Quirk about the issue of dissolution, the Hayward assemblymember brushed off the discussion and said, “I just know you should go away and just give the money,” according to Mahadevan. Quirk’s office did not respond for comment, as of Friday evening.

“That’s his view, my approach has always been simple,” said Bonta. “I want the Eden Health District to actually provide health care. What they’re doing now is spinning their wheels and paying an inflated salary to their CEO.” Mahadevan earned $137,726 in salary and benefits in 2015.

“He’s in full denial mode,” said Bonta. “Hearing him resist it and fight back defies credulity. They’re basically a real estate company, a for-profit business endeavor that does not provide health care.”

Bonta’s legislation last year was specifically tailored for the Eden Health District (formerly called the Eden Township Healthcare District) and requires an 80-20 split of its operating revenue between health care-related grants and services and administrative costs. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law last fall. Quirk also authored a bill last year that was far more punitive and would have immediately dissolved the district. That bill was shelved by Quirk in favor of Bonta’s legislation.

Along with Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan, the mayors of Hayward and San Leandro have called for the Eden Health District to pay more toward health care services, for instance, further subsidizing operations at San Leandro Hospital, which is currently operated by Alameda Health System.

Eden Health District officials, counter saying their unsuccessful lawsuit against Sutter Health helped keep San Leandro Hospital from ceasing operations as a full-service facility with an emergency room. Its decision to sue Sutter was encouraged by Chan and other public officials at the time. In the end, Sutter Health transferred ownership of the facility to Alameda Health System. In addition, the Eden Health District pays Sutter Health $2 million annual over the next 10 years for damages, an outlay Eden Health District officials say has greatly hindered its grant funding ability. The district does not derive any revenue from property taxes.

In December, the Eden Health District Board of Directors approved a total of $250,000 in grants to local health non-profits. In addition, Mahadevan said the district considers the medical offices it owns as health care-related services to the public, and therefore, is a community service that complies with state law.

“That’s one way of looking at it,” said Bonta.

Mahadevan added, “They don’t know what compliance is,” he said of Bonta and his assembly district staff. Directing his comments to Bonta, Mahadevan said, “Tell me the last time you generated revenue and paid for something? I’ve been responsible [as a former health care executive] for 1,200 people and all of their families and their salaries. When did you ever do that? You just tax the bloody things and pass it on.”

Bonta acknowledged his legislation does not include a method for punishing the district if it does not comply with its restrictions. But with the matter of its dissolution currently being discussed by the Alameda County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), the district’s non-compliance could be an argument used for its unwinding, said Bonta. “We can go to LAFCO and argue he’s violating California law and maybe we should dissolve them.”

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