Today was that audio news conference by board members and executives of the Motion Picture & Television Fund and Foundation. I’ll have a full report on it shortly. But it was curious that, before it even FINISHED, these bigwigs had already prepare the following press release about it. No kidding. And they did NOT address all the points they make here about “inaccuracies”, even when I asked:

MPTF ADDRESSES CONCERNS AND INACCURACIES REGARDING THE UPCOMING CLOSURE OF ITS HOSPITAL AND LONG-TERM CARE UNIT
MPTF leadership holds press conference to provide facts and address false allegations

WOODLAND HILLS, CA, Feb. 11, 2009 – The Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF), the entertainment industry’s premier health and social services organization, held an audio press conference today to address concerns about the recently announced closure of its acute care hospital and long-term care facility. Also discussed were inaccuracies being reported about the closure.

Participating in the media conference were Frank Mancuso, Chair of MPTF Corp. Board; Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chair of MPTF Foundation; Joe Fischer, Chair of MPTF Board of Trustees; Dr. David Tillman, President and CEO of MPTF; Ken Scherer, CEO of MPTF Foundation; Seth Ellis, COO of MPTF; Mark Fleischer, MPTF Board Member; Steve Valentine, CEO of The Camden Group; and Andy Garb, Loeb & Loeb (MPTF legal counsel).

Mancuso said that “the decision to close the hospital and long-term care facility did not come easily, but one the Boards needed to make. This decision was made so that we can continue to provide services and support to the 215 residents on the Wasserman Campus, the 100 children who are cared for at the Goldwyn Center, the 1,100 people who received financial support from MPTF last year, the almost 5,000 people who reach out to MPTF for some type of social service and the more than 65,000 patients that use one of our six health centers every year. We have an obligation to these people, and future generations of entertainment industry workers, to make sure MPTF is there for them.”

MPTF leaders went on to identify and dispel several untrue allegations that have been made since the initial announcement on January 14. Among them were:

1. ALLEGATION: MPTF’s announcement of its acute hospital and long-term care closure effectively ends the comprehensive care it once provided to aging industry members.
TRUTH: MPTF is, in fact, continuing its commitment to comprehensive care for seniors in the entertainment industry, including those who will need to relocate. Each person who is relocated will be followed by a Community Care Team consisting of a doctor, a nurse practitioner, nurses, pastoral care and a social worker, all of whom will continue to be involved with their care. Seniors needing hospitalization or long-term care following the closure will be provided with referrals to other MPTF-approved facilities. MPTF continues to provide care for the more than 215 retirees who live on the Wasserman Campus in independent and assisted living and memory care. We expect this will ultimately position us to be able to provide comprehensive care and assistance to the thousands of entertainment industry seniors who want to age in their own homes.

2. ALLEGATION: MPTF’s claim that declining Medi-Cal reimbursements and a depleting endowment are reasons for the closure is untrue.
TRUTH: Medi-Cal reimbursement, which represents more than 80 percent of MPTF patient load, has not kept up with the operating costs of the MPTF hospital and long-term care unit. MPTF provides millions of additional dollars to provide the outstanding service and care that has been so widely acknowledged. The gap between what MPTF receives for these services rendered and the actual cost is $10 million, and has been for the past 4 years. MPTF has had to subsidize a $20 million-a-year difference ($10 million for hospital and long-term care, and an additional $10 million for all other charity services). The gap for operating the hospital and long-term care facility will grow significantly every year, which would lead to a complete depletion of MPTF’s endowment and eventual bankruptcy.

3. ALLEGATION: MPTF tax returns for 2006 and 2007 do not show a $10 million loss, or any losses at all.
TRUTH: As a non-profit, MPTF submits 990 tax forms, which show the overall financial status of the organization but are not intended to be a detailed indicator of operational performance. The $20 million gap was overshadowed in 2007 by two large, one-time gifts and portfolio performance.

MPTF draws money out of its investment portfolio and uses fundraising revenue to close the above-referenced $20 million gap between operating/charity expenses and revenue. The trend is that the $20 million gap is growing more rapidly than we can predictably earn income and philanthropic support.

4. ALLEGATION: The opening of the Saban Center for Health and Wellness seems inconsistent with an organization in trouble.
TRUTH: The services provided by The Saban Center are integral to MPTF’s future ability to provide comprehensive care to thousands of seniors in the industry. In addition to the utilization of the fitness facility by campus residents, there are already more than 500 industry members regularly using the facility. The Saban Center also gave MPTF the opportunity to consolidate overhead expenses, which saves the organization more than $450,000 a year in rent for office space that no longer needs to be leased.

5. ALLEGATION: Some of the residents feel tormented and are reluctant to eat, and their impending move is causing their health to decline and in some cases has resulted in their death.
TRUTH: This is untrue. While this decision is surely causing stress among residents and their families, it has not resulted in change in our usual experience of illnesses, physical ailments or death. Because we know how stressful this is to those involved, each resident being relocated has been assigned a team of professionals to help ensure their physical and emotional comfort during the transition.

6. ALLEGATION: Other hospitals are facing the same challenges, but are not closing their long-term care units.
TRUTH: Many hospitals are closing entirely, and here in Southern California Providence St. Joseph, Hemet Valley and Orange Coast Hospital have all recently announced the closures of their long-term care units.