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Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton
Letter to Control Board Chair Alice Rivlin on
DC General Hospital
March 26, 2001




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Press release Letter
Response by Mayor Anthony Williams


March 26, 2001

Washington, DC--Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released a letter to Control Board Chair Alice Rivlin asking for a more public disclosure of information regarding D.C. General Hospital, to prevent rumors, conjecture and escalated anxiety among residents, some of whom have visited her office. The Congresswoman said she would continue to abide by the long-standing principle that District matters must be "resolved in the District and not by any member of Congress," but she asked the control board to release information such as issues to be resolved, targeted time frames, and written or oral status reports.

The text of Norton's letter follows.

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March 26, 2001

The Honorable Alice Rivlin, Chair
District of Columbia Financial Responsibility
And Management Assistance Authority
441 4th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Dr. Rivlin:

I appreciate that you have been engaged in the grueling task of deciding what course to take with respect to D.C. General Hospital and its uninsured patients. In keeping with the position I have taken consistently since coming to Congress, I must treat D.C. General Hospital as a local issue to be resolved in the District and not by any member of Congress. Only by setting the example of non-intervention in D.C. matters have I been able to keep other members of Congress from routinely and harmfully intruding into D.C. affairs, including the Hospital. I do not intend to violate this principle that has served the District well. However, there are concerns I believe I should raise with you that do not violate the principle of non-intervention in District matters, inasmuch as some residents have come to the Hill and have spoken not only with me but, out of ignorance, even with staff of Members who oppose their concerns.

I deeply regret that this matter could not be resolved entirely by agreement among locally elected officials. While all involved have been trying to reach consensus and during the current control board due diligence, D.C. appropriated funds and potentially the $90 million extra spending authority I negotiated could be spent on operations that all concerned have been trying to reform. The resulting delay and the absence of timely information pending a final resolution have raised serious anxiety levels among many residents. In my meetings, I have found residents to be reasonable but desperate. They have raised many issues that are or probably can be made public concerning both the process and the substance of the transaction underway without endangering discussions or negotiations. Lacking information, rumors and conjectures have taken on a life of their own and concerns have escalated unnecessarily.

Of course I am not aware of the details, but you and your staff undoubtedly are pursuing concerns that have been raised publicly and with me. Public information indicating the issues that must be resolved in this or any public matter ordinarily would not disturb ongoing discussions concerning a public issue, and could hardly do more harm than the lack of information is doing now. Target time frames for resolution, even if they have to be periodically updated, would help to reassure residents. Written or oral status reports on the status of discussions and progress would help to allay concerns that grow larger in the vacuum of authoritative information.

Sincerely yours,
Eleanor Holmes Norton

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SUITE 1100
(202) 727-6224
For Immediate Release:
March 27, 2001
Contact: Lydia Sermons

Statement by Mayor Anthony A. Williams on Health Care Reform in the District

In response to the letter sent today by Eleanor Holmes-Norton to Alice Rivlin, the Mayor has issued the following statement:

"I support Congresswoman Norton's commitment to the District's health system reform being handled by local officials. My office is committed to this transition being a transparent process. As we continue this consensus process of putting in place an improved safety net for our most vulnerable residents, we must continue to make sure that the public has the most accurate and up-to-date information.

"Rumors and misstatements have left some residents fearful and angry about the future of medical care and services in our city. As accurate information on the Health Services Reform Procurement is received from the Control Board, we will help make it available at public meetings, through the District's Department of Health and on the District's website.

"Please call the District's Department of Health at (202) 442-9195, weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm. You can also learn more about health reform by visiting http://www.washingtondc.gov ."

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