Bill would strip Southeast Health board of appointment power

Southeast Health hospital
Southeast Health hospital(WTVY - Kinsley Centers)
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 3:30 PM EST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -Houston County Commissioners would have sole discretion who they appoint to a powerful healthcare board if a legislative bill introduced this week wins final approval.

That measure, sponsored by Rep. Steve Clouse (R-Ozark) and Rep. Jeff Sorrells (R-Hartford), would strip the Houston County Healthcare Authority of power to determine its own members.

Current law requires commissioners to choose only from those recommended by the Authority that oversees Southeast Health and its vast medical care network.

“That is like the fox guarding the henhouse,” said Commissioner Ricky Herring (R-District 3).

Frustrated, Herring in late 2021 refused to reappoint Dothan funeral home owner Lance Shepard, preferring Donalsonville City Manager Steve Hicks who Herring believes is superior to Shepard in financial and business matters.

However, since the Authority recommended Shepard remain on the 13-member board, Herring is powerless to appoint who he believes is the most qualified person.

In the aftermath, commissioners asked state lawmakers to get involved in the dispute.

Clouse’s bill, that requires 60 percent approval in the House and Senate, begins the process to change the selection process.

The bill’s first destination is a House committee that will decide whether to advance the bill to the full House.

With unanimous House and Senate approval, it would be voted on only in Houston County.

But if a single lawmaker opposes the proposed constitutional amendment, voters statewide will decide the issue.

If the bill doesn’t receive at least 60 percent support in both chambers it will fail.

Neither Southeast Health nor the Houston County Healthcare Authority has commented on this issue.

Until there is a resolution, Shepard continues to serve on the Houston County Healthcare Authority.

Copyright 2022 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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