Logosm.gif (1927 bytes)
navlinks.gif (4688 bytes)
Hruler04.gif (5511 bytes)

Back to Public Benefit Corporation main page

Erik R. Fleming, Member, Mississippi House of Representatives
Testimony to the Committee on Human Services on DC General Hospital
April 27, 2001




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


DCWatch Archives
Council Period 12
Council Period 13
Council Period 14

Election 1998
Election 2000
Election 2002

Election 2004
Election 2006

Government and People
Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
Boards and Com
Campaign Finance
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Management Officer
City Council
Control Board
Corporation Counsel
DC Agenda
Elections and Ethics
Fire Department
FOI Officers
Inspector General
Housing and Community Dev.
Human Services
Mayor's Office
Mental Health
Motor Vehicles
Neighborhood Action
National Capital Revitalization Corp.
Planning and Econ. Dev.
Planning, Office of
Police Department
Property Management
Public Advocate
Public Libraries
Public Schools
Public Service Commission
Public Works
Regional Mobility Panel
Sports and Entertainment Com.
Taxi Commission
Telephone Directory
University of DC
Water and Sewer Administration
Youth Rehabilitation Services
Zoning Commission

Issues in DC Politics

Budget issues
DC Flag
DC General, PBC
Gun issues
Health issues
Housing initiatives
Mayor’s mansion
Public Benefit Corporation
Regional Mobility
Reservation 13
Tax Rev Comm
Term limits repeal
Voting rights, statehood
Williams’s Fundraising Scandals


Appleseed Center
Cardozo Shaw Neigh.Assoc.
Committee of 100
Fed of Citizens Assocs
League of Women Voters
Parents United
Shaw Coalition



What Is DCWatch?

themail archives


To Chairman Cropp, Members of the District of Columbia City Council, Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good Afternoon.

My name is Erik R. Fleming and I am a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from District 72. I have served in the House since 1999, representing approximately 25,000 people.

The testimony I am about to present today is similar to the testimony given before U.S. Congressman John Conyers at his March 22"d Congressional briefing concerning health care. For the indulgence of the council, I will make these points again to reemphasize the national implications of this issue.

A subject that is important to my constituents is quality health care. My district is considered the most affluent African-American district in the state of Mississippi. Yet, I know there are a significant number of people in my district that are not covered by health insurance.

In fact, according to the most recent statistics, a 1997 survey by the Urban Institute, there are some 476,000 Mississippians that do not have health insurance. That's around 17 percent of the state's population.

I believe the District of Columbia has an estimated rate of 27 percent uninsured, some 150,000 people. Of the number of patients that D.C. General treats, 55 percent of them are uninsured.

It would seem most appropriate to have a discussion concerning the expansion of D.C. General, one the premier public hospitals in America, and how their medical expertise could help my state handle its health crisis. However, instead of something positive like that, there is a move afoot to close the doors of this institution, an institution of quality health care, which has been a beacon of hope on the Anacostia River, since 1806.

I am here to recommend to all who would hear this testimony that closing D. C. General Hospital would exacerbate the problem of health care in this city and in this nation. Use Mississippi as an example.

In 1987, it was strongly recommended that the state's three eleemosynary, or charity hospitals should be closed. That recommendation came from a Louisiana physician hired as a consultant by the state's Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, or PEER, Committee.

The PEER Committee report (#184, 2/17/87) suggested that there were 13 alternate ways to treat indigent citizens of Mississippi, including taking the money that was used to fund the hospitals, and putting it into the Medicaid system. The theory was that the $3 million the Legislature appropriated to the hospitals could be turned over to Medicaid, which would create more jobs and give the state a return of $12 million for health care.

According to the state's Eleemosynary Board that oversaw the hospitals, the amount of care the three hospitals provided with $3 million, was worth about $25 to 30 million a year. Therefore, instead of seeing a windfall of $9 million, contended the board, it would be a potential loss of $27 million in available health care.

Despite passionate arguments against such an irredeemable recommendation, the state of Mississippi closed its three charity hospitals by June 30, 1989. Another one of the alternatives cited in the PEER report was that needy citizens could continue to use the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, hospitals under the Hill-Burton mandates and community health centers.

Since that time, the U.S. Congress has repealed Hill-Burton. However, even if Hill-Burton were not repealed, those mandates would have expired by August of 2000. The community health centers do a fine job with outpatient care, but do not provide the trauma units, neo-natal services or in-patient care a full service, fully funded public hospital could.

Even more compelling than that, the number of patients seen by the UMMC has not drastically changed since 1985. In 1985-86, UMMC saw an average of 26,214 patients, while the three charity hospitals saw 10, 272 patients. In 19992000, UMMC saw an average of 26,196 patients, while the charity hospitals had been shut down for 10 years.

Where did those 10,000 extra patients go? To this day, no one in the state of Mississippi knows. That is the tragedy that is waiting to befall on the indigent and the uninsured in the District of Columbia if D.C. General suffers the same fate as Mississippi's charity hospitals.

If a public hospital in the nation's capital closes for whatever invidious or nefarious reason, such as upscale urban redevelopment, what hope is there for America to solve its national health care crisis?

With that open-ended question, I thank the chairman and the council for allowing me this opportunity to testify at this hearing.

Back to top of page

Send mail with questions or comments to webmaster@dcwatch.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)