Last week, the Jacksonville paper, the Florida Times-Union, ran a scare story ("Macclenny hospital fears possibility of privatization") about a private company possibly taking over management of a local hospital that cares for mentally ill patients. My letter to the editor ran today:
In the debate over the potential privatization of Northeast Florida State Hospital, some politicians seem more concerned with protecting government jobs than they are with ensuring the health and well-being of the hospital's patients.
If policymakers don't want to see the hospital relocated. which no one has actually proposed, then all they need to do is stipulate that any privatization would be conditional upon the facility staying right where it is.
As they've already done in the successful South Florida privatizations, politicians can and should mandate that any private firm taking over the hospital be required to get it accredited, something the state hasn't been able to manage in its 50 years of operation.
State psychiatric hospitals shouldn't be a government jobs program. They exist to treat and improve the lives of the most vulnerable people in society.
Policymakers need to ask themselves who they're really supposed to be serving?