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Portage TEA Party leader responds to AP story

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: July 3, 2013

The Associated Press broke a story Tuesday about how the tea party wants to turn its recent foe, the IRS, into a friend in its fight against the expansion of Medicaid.

Tom Zawistowski, who heads up the Portage County TEA Party and wrote the memo AP wrote about, sent out a press release today with his response.

Here's what he said:

On Tuesday, July 2, 2013, the Associated Press published the details of a confidential email concerning using the IRS to challenge compensation of Ohio Hospital executives and perhaps their non-profit status as a way to fight Medicaid Expansion in Ohio. The email was sent to Ohio TEA Party groups by Tom Zawistowski, Executive Director of the Portage County TEA Party, on Monday, July 1, 2013, just one day after Ohio Repbulican Governor John Kasich had vetoed a provision in the State Budget designed to block Medicaid Expansion.

Zawistowski explained "While the email was intended for TEA Party group leaders and was not intended to become public until we had gathered the data we needed, it is true that we intend to file complaints with the IRS concerning the amount of compensation given to the senior management of Ohio hospitals. We also intend to make all of their names and salaries public, along with the assets of every hospital in the state so that the citizens of Ohio can see who is funding Governor Kasich's efforts to expand Medicaid."

Zawistowski continued by saying "I found the comments of Ohio Hospital Association Vice President Scott Borgemenke in the AP story very interesting as they are the political arm of the hospitals and are the ones channeling all the money to the lobbyist and politicians to "win" the Medicaid battle. We will be looking into the activities of his organization as well. He claimed that Ohio hospitals have "billions of dollars in uncompensated care" when study after study shows that only about 2% of hospital expenses are from what is called "charity care" and anything above that is bad debt, the vast majority of which is not affected by Medicaid expansion and does not keep them from making money. Despite his claims, we will prove that the hospitals make plenty of money, which they don't pay taxes on, all while the insurance premiums for hard working Ohioans are expected to go up 88% in the next twelve months to pay for government controlled health care programs we don't need or want. Money that will go to the hospitals and insurance companies that are pushing Medicaid expansion."

Zawistowski added "Mr. Borgemenke pointed out that CEO's salaries were decided by Community Boards which now causes me to ask our groups to expand their research so that we can list all of the members of these Community Boards to see if they actually reflect members of the "community" and then research whom they have made political donations to in the past few years. We will also be looking at expense reports by hospital executives and Board members to see how much of a priority they put on "caring for the poor." When the CEO of Tiffin Mercy Hospital, Scott Mikus, is making $1.7 million per year and the second in command, John Starcher, is taking home almost $1.1 million, it is hard for the average citizen in Tiffen, who has a household income of $34,000 per year, to believe that the hospital is hurting and needs more of their tax dollars to care for low income citizens."

Zawistowski concluded by saying "We will file our IRS challenges by the end of the month and release our findings to the public through the media so that all Ohioans will see that Medicaid expansion is just another big government program hoisted on the backs of middle class working Americans for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Their is no need for Medicaid expansion in Ohio other than greed and political ambition. All that Ohio Citizens need to do is talk to their private practice physician, who is being put out of business by Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, to understand how this is going to dramatically increase health care costs and reduce the quality of care because your doctor will be gone when this is implemented. That is what the TEA Party Movement is working to stop from happening."


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