Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday rejected a legislative attempt to temporarily strip the Arizona Board of Regents of its oversight of UA Healthcare.
The governor said she is not pleased by what she called "eleventh-hour decisions'' by the regents when they voted earlier this month to change the selection criteria for the new executive director of the corporation which manages University Medical Center and Kino Community Hospital as well as a private doctors' group. The regents also voted to support a move to sharply shrink the size of the UA Healthcare board.
Brewer also said the changes, subsequently repealed after lawmakers threatened to permanently remove the regents from control, were made "without input from key policymakers.''
But Brewer said the legislative reaction -- taking away regents' oversight of the nonprofit corporation for 18 months -- created too many "legal and contractual implications.'' That includes questions of whether the state could cede complete control of the publicly owned hospitals to the board of the corporation.
Her veto, however, does not end the dispute.
In separate action Friday, Brewer signed an executive order creating the Arizona Medical Education Oversight Task Force to oversee future discussions to about how best to structure the future relationship between UA Healthcare and the UA College of Medicine. The members of that panel, to be named later, also would analyze various options for how to create an "academic medical center,'' the stated goal of the regents in approving the changes.
Brewer also warned the regents not to take her veto of the legislation as license to just do as they please.
The governor said any future discussion about a merger "must be transparent and include input from a much broader set of stakeholders,'' including legislators. And Brewer said if the regents proceed without this important she will call a special legislative session to force that to happen, in a form that she and lawmakers want.
Regent Rick Myers, who has been at the forefront of the changes, said that will not be necessary. He said the regents will do "everything possible'' to work the the task force.
"I do believe what the governor is recommending will get all the right people involved.
How much that additional input will change the plans remains to be seen.
One key change would have required that the new CEO of UA Healthcare also be a doctor, a position which also would make him an officer at the College of Medicine. Proponents said that coordination is necessary to take what is now a good community hospital and make it a leader in research.
That change is supported by many of the doctors who teach at the college and also work at the hospital.
Brewer, however, said she remains skeptical.
"I have yet to hear a clearly articulated reason why the existing structure limits our opportunity for success,'' she said.