Rep. JoAnne Favors withdraws support of Erlanger overhaul bill, cites benefit cuts

Rep. JoAnne Favors withdraws support of Erlanger overhaul bill, cites benefit cuts

March 5th, 2014 by Andy Sher in Local - Breaking News

JoAnne Favors

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

The Erlanger hospital campus is shown from South Crest Drive.

The Erlanger hospital campus is shown from South...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

NASHVILLE - Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, today announced she's dropping her co-sponsorship of a bill overhauling Erlanger Health System, citing concerns apparently linked to the public hospital's just-announced temporary freeze of paid time-off accruals for employees.

"I had initially been a supporter of this bill," Favors told fellow House Health Committee members this afternoon as Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, began presenting the bill. "But because of events that have occurred in recent days at Erlanger in Chattanooga, I feel that this bill would not safeguard employees."

Favors, a retired health care administrator and nurse who once worked for Erlanger, said that she doesn't feel able to support the bill "until some amendments are made that would protect employees of the hospitals."

While Favors did not explicitly cite Erlanger's decision to freeze 4,000 accrued leave time until July, one source said that is her concern.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, wound up delaying consideration of the measure. Carter said he wants to meet with Favors to discuss her concerns.

"I think when they understand the bill, everybody will be for it," Carter said. "Health care now is a hunt for dollars and the [federal] Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has the money. They tell you where it's at. We've got to the point where we have to design systems to get the money."