A number of County Commission members on Wednesday morning spoke in opposition to a new bill changing the make-up of the Erlanger Health System board of trustees.
That left the bill short of the six votes needed for ratification.
At the regular meeting, no one on the commission made a motion to ratify the bill so it died for lack of action and will not go into effect. Erlanger is left with its current board, which recently chose a new president and CEO, Kevin Spiegel.
Commissioner Jim Fields, who heads the legal and legislative committee, said, "They put a lot of good stuff in the bill, but it falls a little short of the mark.
He and Commissioner Chester Bankston voted to recommend that the full commission not ratify the bill that was recently signed by Governor Bill Haslam.
Also citing problems with the bill at the committee meeting were Commissioners Joe Graham and Tim Boyd.
Commissioner Boyd said Erlanger officials were urging that the commission not proceed with ratification, but delay the matter.
The chief complaint cited by commission members was that County Commission members had no say-so on appointment of the initial board members, then it becomes self-perpetuating.
Commissioner Fields said the bill requires the county to contribute $1 million to Erlanger without any say-so in its operation.
Commissioner Bankston said there was no provision for other governments to help fund Erlanger.
He stated, "We do need say-so on anything we own. We should have at least a couple of members."
Commissioner Joe Graham noted there is a consumer price index factor added to the required county contribution. He said it was computed that if the county had been under the same formula all along "we would be up to around $22 million a year now." The county in prior years contributed $3 million to Erlanger, but in recent years cut that to $1.5 million.
Commissioner Graham said the bill was meant to cut out politics, but he said, "It's a county hospital. It is political."
He suggested an 11-member board with two named by the county mayor and one each by the nine commissioners.
Commissioner Boyd said the bill states that the initial board is named by the general assembly - not by just the local legislative delegation. He said, "People all over the state have more say-so than the County Commission."
He said, "I don't like the make-up of the current board, but the new board is going to be more of the same."
Commissioner Boyd, who said he had just come from a meeting with Erlanger officials, said, "Erlanger is our house. This initial board is going to set the tone for the future of Erlanger."