Okay, this post is a bit of hearsay, but if the story I heard is correct, then I want to go on the record as offering thanks to Rich Riebling, Nashville’s Finance Director.
Last week, during the Metro General Hospital budget review session to the Budget and Finance Committee of the Metro Council, a certain at-large councilman tried to suggest that the hospital was no different than the fairgrounds, that it was a money losing proposition and should be shut down. According to someone present, Mr. Riebling jumped to the defense of the hospital, noting that the hospital was a very different thing from the fairgrounds, and that Nashville needs a safety net hospital to ensure care for all.
This is significant for me because the administration hasn’t always been very supportive of the hospital and its mission. Mr. Riebling got in a shouting match with Jerry Maynard and former CEO Reginald Coopwood a couple of years ago following a budget hearing, and the rumors abounded that the administration was looking for ways to shut down the hospital and direct those funds elsewhere. This expression of support may or may not represent a change of heart, but it’s absolutely necessary at this time when Metro General and other public hospitals find themselves at risk due to the proposed changes in TennCare reimbursement and support.
So kudos to Rich Riebling for taking on a short sighted and ill informed view on an important issue for our city and helping to make clear the fact that our city needs a safety net for those in need.