Wednesday, August 20, 2008

AHERF again and again

The CP's politics blog comments on the recent news of trouble at AHERF and its outstanding debt. Some may not even know what AHERF was and think UPMC was the only elephant in the room in the local health care system. There was a time when Allegheny General Hospital had grandiose visions of being and had expanded via acquisitions and merger to be a player in health care on both ends of Pennsylvania. Such a big vision needed a bigger name and AHERF, or the Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation, was that brand. It was a plan that pretty quickly collapsed under its own weight. Out in Philadelphia, people are still mad at the destruction it wrought on the health system out there when the system plunged into bankruptcy. In typing this I wonder, AHERF in some form must have been bigger than UPMC for some brief period of time? I'd have to check that, but it seems like it must have been true.

AHERF is worth thinking about again. Lots of talk of public sector bankruptcy around the country as I have been pointing out. Some may not realize that AHERF's bankruptcy was filed under chapter 9 of the bankruptcy code. Thus in the eyes of the law, it was a public entity like a government in some ways. I simplify of course, but it's worth remembering. That and for everyone who tells me chapter 9 bankruptcy can't happen around here... there was a time when the concept of AHERF going bankrupt was pretty inconceivable.

What is also worth thinking about, because it shows. The financial calamity of AHERF is not ancient history in that it was only last year that the final financial issues from the bankruptcy were unwound. You would think they would have learned from all that, but some cycles are forced to repeat themselves, thus the references in the first paragraph.


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