IATSE’s International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 just sent out this email and accompanying “Setting The Record Straight” fact sheet to members about the Motion Picture & Television Fund and Foundation’s unexpected announcement about the closure of the acute care hospital and long-term care nursing home. There are additional details here. (Though, like most everything IATSE, Poster puts the best spin possible on the bad situation.) I have more MPTF stories in coming days…

From: ICG Local 600
Date: January 23, 2009
Subject: Motion Picture Hospital and Longterm Care Facility Update

January 23, 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A number of members have asked the Local questions about the recently announced closing of the Motion Picture Television Fund Hospital (the “hospital”) and the Long Term Care (skilled nursing) facility, which is commonly referred to as a “nursing home.”

First, let me explain that the Motion Picture Television Fund (MPTF or “the Fund”) is a completely separate entity governed by a completely separate board than that of the Motion Picture Industry Pension and Health Plans. The Fund is a charity completely dependent upon donations.

Second, the Hospital and Long Term Care (LTC) facility are not to be confused with the Motion Picture Home. The independent and assisted living residents of the retirement community on The Wasserman Campus are not in jeopardy. In fact, plans are underway to do some renovations to upgrade the Country House, the Ray & Fran Stark Villas, the Frances Goldwyn Lodge and hopefully to expand the facilities in the future. The Saban Center is fully functioning.

Having said this, let me explain what I believe is going on with the Motion Picture Television Fund.

First, the Fund Clinics (Woodland Hills, Toluca Lake, Bob Hope Health Center, Santa Clarita, Westside, and Canoga Park) are NOT the same thing as the Hospital. They are not affected by this decision and will continue to provide excellent healthcare to IATSE members. As always, we encourage you to utilize the CLINICS for your normal health care needs. In addition, Social Services, Eldercare Connection, MPTF Age Well Program, Palliative Care and the Saban Center are not affected.

Patients in the Long Term Care facility are not being abandoned. Each person is being assigned a MPTF social worker to personally help the families relocate their loved ones into other “community-based” private long term care facilities. The commitment to the patients, and to the entire industry community, is ongoing — and it will continue providing service to them through newly created Community Care Teams. These teams will consist of physicians, nurse practitioners and social workers who will stay in touch and follow up with the patients after they have taken up residence in other long-term care facilities.

For the time being, the Woodland Hills Hospital will still be utilized for outpatient surgeries in conjunction with the Clinic.

Plans are also underway to have Harry’s Haven licensed independently through the State of California. The Fund intends to continue operating its memory care facility and residents of Harry’s Haven are not being moved at this time.

How this happened is, of course, a complicated discussion. But in the simplest of terms, the skyrocketing costs of health care in this country are draining the resources of the privately funded MPTF. The vast majority of patients in the hospital and Long Term Care facility were dependent upon government insurance programs (Medi-Cal/Medicare) whose reimbursement rates have not kept pace with fast-rising operating costs. In July, the State of California decreased MediCal funding by 8%. We all know the budgetary problems of our state – the State’s not paying its bills. MPTF can no longer make up its shortfall by dipping into its investment reserves. Based on current projections, continuing to subsidize the hospital and LTC facility would likely exhaust available reserves within five years and threaten the entire system.

Heartbreakingly, roughly 290 jobs will be lost in this hospital and LTC phase-out. MPTF will re-assign some workers to new positions, but it represents roughly one-third of their hourly and managerial workers. MPTF will provide out-placement counseling and host job fairs in an effort to help these displaced workers find new employment.

Local 600 will be meeting with representatives of the Fund as well as representatives from other IATSE locals to do our best to work with the families of our former members, who are patients of LTC. We should all remember that during the Writers Guild Strike, the Fund donated more than two million dollars in financial assistance to IATSE and Teamster members in need; $109,000 was used to help Local 600 members.

For those of us who contribute to the Fund and consider it our most important charity, this is very sad news. Hopefully, this letter and the attached “Setting the Record Straight” provided by the Fund will give some clarity to this issue.

Fraternally,
Steven Poster
National President