NASHVILLE - State legislators from Hamilton County are moving a bill in the General Assembly that strips appointments by Chattanooga as well as Hamilton County's two Chancery Court judges to Erlanger Health System's board of trustees.
The private act puts Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, with approval of the County Commission, and the local legislative delegation in charge of making appointments to a revamped board with the exception of the public hospital's chief of medical staff.
"We're taking appointments away from the city ... because they no longer contribute money to Erlanger," said sponsor Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, of the city's four appointments. "We're giving it to the people who put money in the game."
By the same token, the two chancellors lose their one appointment because they too have "no skin in the game," Carter said.
Meanwhile, a joint city and county government appointment, made with the approval of the Chattanooga and Hamilton County Medical Society, disappears.
The total number of trustees drops from 12 to 11.
Brent Goldberg, the city's deputy chief operating officer, said in a statement that the city has a good working relationship with Erlanger leadership, and that it is currently reviewing the hospital's current request for $5 million from the city.
"That said, it would be difficult for the City to fund an organization like Erlanger if our voice is not represented on the board and if we are not part of future discussions regarding its direction," he said in a statement.
Chattanooga and Hamilton County each currently get four appointments to Erlanger.
Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, in the Senate, Hamilton County's mayor will have six appointments, subject to approval by county commissioners.
Appointments by Hamilton County legislative seven-member delegation rise from one to four. Erlanger's medical chief of staff is the eleventh.
The private act would only take effect upon approval by two thirds of the Hamilton County Commission.
For more information, read Wednesday's Times Free Press.