Finally, we are starting to find out how much of OUR money was spent during the bankruptcy process. As we pointed out in a previous post, El Paso County and UMC each had their own sets of lawyers. Today, the El Paso Times has reported that the El Paso County Commissioners have spent $262,000 “so far, in part to fight professional fees in the Children’s Hospital bankruptcy.”
According to the Times article, the majority of the fees were for the work of Wiley F. James III, who charges $350 per hour. What did he spend his time doing? “spent much of his time attending court hearings in the case and challenging professional fees charged by Children’s Hospital’s consultants and its law firm.”
At $350 an hour, he spent approximately 748.6 hours challenging fees and attending court; that seems like a productive use of tax payer dollars. Here is what Veronica Escobar had to say about it: “Our preference, of course, would’ve been to have never had this expense at all,” she said of the legal fees in an email. “However, because the former (El Paso Children’s Hospital) board decided to engage in a costly bankruptcy process, we agreed that the county had no choice but to do everything possible to protect and recoup the taxpayers’ investments.”
How, exactly, has spending a quarter of a million dollars of tax payer money helped to “protect and recoup taxpayers’ investments”? Especially since the County Commissioners’ desire for control will result in the El Paso Children’s Hospital LOSING $5 – $20 million in Medicaid/Medicare reimbursements.
The El Paso Times article states that legal fees for UMC will be available next week. Stay tuned.