Last February, the board of directors of Portage Health announced they had signed a letter of intent to form a joint venture with LifePoint Hospitals. At the time of the announcement, Portage said the proposed partnership would provide additional resources to expand the healthcare services provided in its communities and invest further in the growth of the hospital.
It must be pointed out, as the Daily Mining Gazette did in an article last week, that nothing as of yet has been decided on the proposed joint venture.
The agreement in February is non-binding and any permanent agreement would follow a due diligence period and further negotiations. Any agreement would then be subject to review by the Attorney General of Michigan before being finalized.
Almost immediately after the announcement there was concern. Of concern to many was what would happen to health care in the area if Portage Health went from being a non-profit entity to a for-profit business.
Portage officials were quick to point out any agreement would ensure a joint venture whereby Portage would share ownership. Meaning local control.
We feel it is too early to panic about such a proposed arrangement. And in some aspects the conversion to a for-profit health care provider is actually quite good news.
As the DMG pointed out in our July 3, article, the move would put Portage and all its businesses on the tax rolls, certainly good news for the city of Hancock.
One only has to look at the Copper Country's major employers, including Michigan?Technological University, note that many are either non-profit corporations or government-run institutions and as such not subject to the same property taxes as privately held businesses.
Of course there are other advantages to such a move that go beyond paying taxes.
Of course there would be disadvantages as well. Such is life.
Our point is, at this time there is nothing definitive going on with Portage Health, there is no need to panic, or frankly to be concerned at all.
And if it does go through it could be a very good situation for the City of Hancock and all who live and do business there.