By AlaskaWatchman.com

Facing mounting controversy about the insular way it selects board members and facing questions about how it spends millions of dollars gleaned from the local hospital, the Mat-Su Health Foundation will hold its annual membership meeting on June 10.

For several years, the enormously wealthy MSHF has been embroiled in controversy about the direction of the nonprofit. In particular, organization members have expressed frustration that an organization, which was formed to improve the health of Mat-Su residents, has increasingly spent money taken from Mat-Su Regional hospital on programs and initiatives that push LGBTQ ideology, critical race theory and aggressive Covid vaccination campaigns.

Money for these initiatives comes from the fact that the MSHF gets 35% of all profits from Mat-Su Regional hospital, a entity that has endured mounting criticism over its highly expensive healthcare costs.

Over the past 15 years, MSHF has amassed $330 million from its arrangement with the hospital, while only redistributing $106 million of that money to the wider Mat-Su community.

If last year’s MSHF membership meeting is any indication, this year’s gathering may include some heated debate.

While many MSHF members would like to see that money go toward lowering healthcare costs for local residents, they have no power to force the MSHF board of directors to change its priorities. That’s because members can no longer elect their representatives on the MSHF board of directors. Instead, board members are appointed and replaced by the sitting board members. Rank-and-file members have no authority.

This insulated power structure, drew the attention of the Mat-Su Borough Assembly last week, when assemblymembers voted on a non-binding resolution encouraging the MSHF to give its members the opportunity to, once again, vote on who sits on the board of directors.

Introduced by Assemblyman Rob Yundt, the resolution urged the MSHF to change its bylaws and to place a priority on lowering healthcare costs, rather than growing the nonprofit’s investment and cash assets.

Yundt’s resolution did not disparage how MSHF disperses grants and scholarships to the community, many of which are non-controversial, but it did raise serious questions about the way board members are appointed, as well as the fact that the nonprofit is reaping millions of dollars from sky high healthcare costs set by the hospital.

“If you really want to lower the cost of healthcare you stop keeping the 35% of profit,” Yundt said at the June 4 Mat-Su Assembly meeting. He added that he thought “the community would be a lot better off if they got to choose the board members, like it used to be.”

Yundt noted that a management team at the Mat-Su Borough recently completed a study showing that health costs at Mat-Su Regional are 1.2 to 9.6 times higher than the similar services provided at Alaska Regional in Anchorage. Of 11 services randomly selected, not one was more affordable at Mat-Su Regional.

Yundt’s successful resolution included a provision stating that the assembly would like the school district and the borough to encourage, and potentially incentivize, employees to utilize Alaska Regional and Lower-48 healthcare facilities rather than patronizing Mat-Su Regional.

The amendment passed with Assemblymembers Stephanie Nowers and Tim Hale opposed.

If last year’s MSHF membership meeting is any indication, this year’s gathering may include some heated debate.

In 2023, conservative-minded members turned out in force to voice their disapproval with MSHF. At that time, the foundation’s membership included 359 people, many of whom had joined within the past year by paying a $5 annual membership fee. Many of these members are actively seeking to get the board of directors to steer the organization in a direction that reflects the values of the majority of its members.

A top priority is to change the way board members are chosen. In order to change the bylaws, however, the board of directors must first approve putting it up for a vote of the members. So far, they have adamantly refused to do so. While 25% of the members can call a special board meeting, they do not have the authority to set the agenda. Only the board members can do so.

Given these circumstances, the board of directors enjoys immense power over the Mat-Su Health Foundation and its overall agenda.

TAKING ACTION

— The next annual membership meeting is Monday, June 10, at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m., and the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. You must be a member to attend.

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TONIGHT: Amid growing controversy, Mat-Su Health Foundation to hold membership meeting

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.


7 Comments

  • Jeanette Exner says:

    This column complains about “LGBTQ ideology, critical race theory and aggressive Covid vaccination campaigns.” I see nothing in this commentary about how the organization promotes LGBTQ “ideology” and “critical race theory.” As for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, isn’t that what public organizations are supposed to do? Donald Trump, to his credit, created “Operation Warp Speed,” aimed at getting the American public vaccinated on an emergency basis. No one was FORCED to get the jab, although most of the people who died of COVID-19 were unvaccinated. This commentary seems like a lot a wailing and gnashing of teeth over nothing except perceived cultural grievances.

    • Neil DeWitt says:

      Your incorrect as the vaccine was forced upon the people. If you didn’t get the jab you could go or do anything. Just last week on the news it had a special that said unactivated weren’t alowed on airplanes to travel. Maybe just a little research on your part before you go with the democratic agenda redacted B.S. story would be nice! Thank you, and have a great day!

    • Friend of Humanity says:

      Oh Jeanette, you and your buddies never cease to amaze me with your staunch persistence in repeating the lies about those who are lying, ramping up the lies that this is Trump’s fault that so many people got the toxic jabs and so many people are now dying of turbo cancers, strokes, heart attacks, and other used-to-be rare illnesses/diseases. So many people are brainwashed (like you) into believing that they were supposed to do what the government told them to do because the government cares about them. Wake up Jeanette Exner. This war is not about the People; it is about the evil that is attempting to take over our world and how it has taken over our government and our judicial system.

      • Jeff Butler says:

        Gosh humanity, she actually semi praised trump. And, based on some of your comments before you seem to be evidence curious, like you’ve dabbled with the scientific method but it is antagonistic to your faith so you retreat to projection like claiming Exner is “brainwashed”.

  • Neil DeWitt says:

    Now, I think hospital costs are way to high and we should look at closing down MSHF. If tgey are charging that over inflated price and it’s fir no good it needs to go back into tge lowering of cost. If the board members are being installed from within, that’s not right. I can see how the LGBTQ+ have or are trying to take over. This is wrong. The people should have a say into who is a board member or not. (VOTE)

  • Dee Cee says:

    I’m just wondering… back about a year ago, the author never mentioned the “insular way in which” HRA selects its “board members.” This, despite having a fiscal emergency, ostensible irs code violations, and a director who verbally and in writing denied members access to the organization’s bylaws. I’m wondering if this author plans to attend HRA’s annual “Board Members” meeting? And is he planning to demand an election of the member representative to the board that is required by the organization’s bylaws?

    Or maybe the author only expects non profit organizations he OPPOSES to follow the law?

  • Mongo Like Candy says:

    100s of millions of $ ripe for corruption and money laundering Ukranian style no doubt.

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