Letter to the Editor

Over the last several months we have made several information requests of both local health systems (Ascension and ThedaCare). Most recently we requested corporate bylaws and financial assistance policies from both organizations. The bylaws were requested in order that we could learn how members of the board of trustees for both organizations are nominated and selected. Financial assistance policies were specifically requested to learn how these organizations will assist community members purchasing insurance on the exchange who do not qualify for subsidy payments. Many Valley individuals and families are unable to afford coverage despite being above the community average ($59k) in median household income.

In both cases our requests for information have been…ignored. ThedaCare hasn’t responded to either request. Ascension did send an “executive summary” of the bylaws which did not address our request. Both of these organizations are “not-for-profit” but have combined annual revenues in the vicinity of $1.5 billion and substantial net revenues. Both organizations have senior executives paid annual salaries well above $1million. The new tax law passed by the Congress in December requires not for profit institutions who pay administrative employees more than $1million to pay an excise tax of 21% of the amount over $1million. Fox Valley consumers will be paying those amounts.

If someone had told us that these organizations, both of whom tout their “community role”, would ignore requests by members of the community they purport to “serve”, we would have been skeptical. We are skeptical no longer. We have now formed the opinion that these organizations are contemptuous of anyone who requests information about their operations, policies, and procedures at a time when the costs of the service they provide are increasingly unaffordable for many residents. This is profoundly arrogant and unacceptable behavior.

Merton D. Finkler Ph.D.

William McLaughlin


Update January 23, 2018: ThedaCare did respond to the request for financial assistance policy. Their current policy for financial assistance ends at approximately $41k for a single individual and $55k for a couple (350% of the federal poverty level); so, those who do not qualify for premium subsidies on the federal exchange would receive no financial assistance. ThedaCare has still not offered their corporate bylaws for review.