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"IT'S A LIE": Boone Hospital Trustee candidate denies leading 'backroom' hospital merger talks

"I personally have spent zero time on anything..."
COLUMBIA, Mo 2/15/18 (Interview) -- A Boone County Hospital Board of Trustees candidate denies allegations he is backroom dealing to assure a merger between Boone County and University of Missouri hospitals, despite reports merger negotiations are off.  

"This is NOT true, it’s a lie.  I have had zero conversations with the Trustees about going forward," Greg Steinhoff told the Columbia Heart Beat for this multi-part interview.

Merger opponents, mostly private physicans and healthcare providers, "are very worried about being forced out of business by what would be a monopoly on hospital care if Boone and Mizzou become a single entity," a source told the Heart Beat on condition of anonymity.  
Five elected Trustees govern the County-owned Boone Hospital Center (BHC).  Appointed by Boone County Commissioners to fill the seat Fred Parry vacated when he was elected Southern District Commissioner last year, Steinhoff will face Peak Sport and Spine co-founder Mark Dempsey for election to the seat in April.

Steinhoff previously held a Boone Hospital Trustee position from 1999-2005. 

"Three weeks ago, the Trustees decided to cease discussions with the University," Steinhoff explained.  "Immediately, the Trustees cancelled their contract with their lobbyist, the University removed the legislation from their lobbying agenda, Senator Caleb Rowden is not and has no intention of sponsoring legislation, and I personally have spent ZERO time on anything to do with it."  
Sources familiar with Boone County government say BHC hired Steinhoff as a lobbyist to help pass a state law that would allow Mizzou to bypass anti-trust regulations impeding the two-hospital consolidation, and is continuing that work now.  While the first part is true, Steinhoff said he has since terminated the arrangement. 

"This contract was cancelled when I filed for Trustee.  The [Boone Hospital] Trustees were aware that I had experience with the Missouri legislature, and they asked that I come on as a consultant to work with the University to oversee this legislative process," he told the Heart Beat. "I agreed, but only on the terms that I wouldn’t be paid, that if the contract had any remuneration it would go to the BHC Foundation," a patient service group. 
"I’ve received zero compensation for expenses, time, or anything," Steinhoff said. 

Hospitals grant -- and can revoke -- all-important "physician privileges" that allow physicians to admit patients for complex tests, procedures, and supervision. 

Many private physicians enjoy such privileges at Boone Hospital Center (BHC), but not University Hospital.  The idea Mizzou would push out dozens of BHC-affiliated physicians is not far fetched.  Merger opponents point to the University's  1999 purchase of the former Columbia Regional Hospital, now MU Women's and Children's Hospital, as evidence of what is to come. 

Mizzou pulled a bait-and-switch on Columbia Regional's private physicians after the merger, they claim. "MU said those doctors could stay if they just reapplied. But then, after stalling and foot-dragging, they wouldn't let them re-apply.  After protests to the University President, Mizzou fired them."   

Given past and present controversies, the end of Mizzou-BHC merger talks, other sources explained, is another bait and switch, to take the issue off the campaign table, with its public forums and media attention, before the April elections. 

"If Steinhoff gets elected, the negotiations will continue apace, virtually assuring the merger," this publication was advised. 

NEXT:  Steinhoff confronts hospital merger opposition
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