Tougher audit needed to understand UTMC finances, Ohio lawmakers say

Ohio lawmakers are calling for a state forensic and performance audit of the University of Toledo to better understand the financial picture of its medical center. 

In July 8 statement, state Sen. Teresa Fedor, D-Toledo, and other lawmakers asked Ohio auditor Keith Faber to take a more extensive look at the university. The policymakers said the request came after a cursory audit of the University of Toledo raised "new financial questions and concerns among doctors." 

The lawmakers said an accurate picture of the University of Toledo (Ohio) Medical Center's finances is needed. The hospital is accepting bids to purchase, lease or manage the facility. At a June 22 meeting of the board of trustees, the university said it was evaluating all options for the financially strained UTMC. Toledo-based ProMedica is one of the organizations that made a bid to assume the day-to-day operations of UTMC. 

ProMedica already has connections to the university. In 2015, a 50-year academic affiliation agreement was struck between ProMedica and the university's College of Medicine and Life Sciences. Critics have argued that the existing relationship has resulted in several of UTMC's top revenue-generating departments being transferred to ProMedica. Officials also argue that UTMC has lost many of its teaching physicians and students to ProMedica. However, the university has said the affiliation is between ProMedica and the university's college of medicine, not UTMC, and has enhanced medical education in Toledo, led to more physician graduates staying local and increased faculty size.

University officials asked the state auditor to review the finances of both UTMC and the College of Medicine and Life Sciences since the 2015 agreement. The report, which was presented at the June 22 board meeting, "identified no material causes for concern," the University of Toledo said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review

The lawmakers disagreed. In a July 7 letter to the state auditor, the lawmakers questioned findings from the cursory audit that was presented at the June 22 meeting. They said it suggests UTMC was profitable from 2016-18, but "interdepartmental transfers caused the medical college to operate in the red." The lawmakers also questioned how an estimated $30 million in Graduate Medical Education funds from Medicare was used.

In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, ProMedica said: "The academic affiliation between ProMedica and the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences was thoroughly vetted by both involved parties and reviewed by the Ohio Attorney General's Antitrust Division in 2015. The terms of the academic affiliation have been available to the public online since its inception. Both parties continue to adhere to the terms as outlined to enrich the quality of medical education and expand clinical training capacity in Toledo."

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