If running an urban academic medical system is a gamble, then Joseph Marshall III is the perfect choice to oversee Pennsylvania's newest industry: gaming.
Last month, Marshall was named the first appointee to the seven-member Pennsylvania State Gaming Control Board. The board was created as the state launches its new billion-dollar slot machine industry. At his day job, Marshall serves as chairman and chief executive officer of five-hospital Temple University Health System in Philadelphia.
He also is a former chairman of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission. Putting all his cards on the table, Marshall authorized the release of his 2003 state and federal income tax returns. He will undergo a vetting process that involves a criminal background check by the state police.
The board will include three members appointed by the governor and four legislative appointees. Pennsylvania House Speaker John Perzel, a Republican from Philadelphia, appointed Marshall. He will serve a two-year term and cannot serve more than three consecutive terms.
The control board will be responsible for approving and monitoring the 14 slot licenses available in Pennsylvania. The machines will be placed in casinos, racetracks and two resort hotels.
In total, the slots are expected to generate $1 billion over the next three years, including $600 million in the next year from the sale of the gaming licenses, says Beth Williams, a spokeswoman for Perzel. None of the money has been earmarked for healthcare unless you count the $1.5 million that will be set aside for a compulsive gambling treatment fund, she says.
Temple officials said Marshall's service on the gaming board is a personal endeavor that has nothing to do with his regular job.
"From my years on the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, I've developed a belief that all of us have a duty to serve the public," Marshall says in a news release. "Gaming is a major change for Pennsylvania, one that will provide a significant source of new revenue. I look forward to working with the other members of the board to ensure that the public interest is always in the forefront of our decisions."
AHA at your voting service
With healthcare a key issue in the election this year, the American Hospital Association has launched an online service to help hospital employees register to vote and cast early or absentee ballots.
"America's hospitals are filled with busy people, and unpredictable schedules can make it hard to get to a polling place on Election Day," AHA President Richard Davidson wrote in a statement released last week. "Early voting and vote by mail can help us increase voter turnout-and participation in our democratic electoral process-during this crucial election year."
The site, hospitals.helpingamericansvote.org, has one-click access to each state's registration and voting procedures. As it notes, many states have eased their voting regulations. Forty states allow their residents to vote early, some by as much as 43 days. In 30 states, voters can sign up any time to vote by mail. And by Labor Day, voters in 45 states will be able to vote by mail.
The AHA is urging hospital leaders to make the service known to their patients and communities as well. Of course, the association won't be telling anyone whom to vote for, but it is also promoting its "Seven Steps to a Healthier America" campaign, which seeks to expand access to healthcare for everyone.
Celebrity sightings were no rarity at the Democratic National Convention in Boston last week, but among the more unusual were the two founding fathers who returned from the grave to protest President Bush. The issue that awoke "Sam Adams" and "Benjamin Franklin" from their patriotic slumber: prescription drug coverage.
"In our government, the principals have lost their principles," a Franklin impersonator told a rally by the Service Employees International Union at Boston Harbor. After Franklin's remarks, a few dozen SEIU members chanted "Down with King George," as Sam and Ben tossed empty prescription drug bottles into the harbor. This being 2004, however, the bottles were in netted bags that were quickly pulled back so as not to pollute the waters of the harbor, which has been cleaned up since it was a campaign problem for 1988 Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis, then the Massachusetts governor.
In another healthcare protest, a ragtag group of Dennis Kucinich supporters marched two blocks from the Copley Square train station (we're not sure why) to the Boston headquarters of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. to demand fair health insurance coverage policies. When they reached the skyscraper, the demonstrators shouted, "Healthcare for all!" but the only people there to listen were two unconcerned security guards and a few passers-by. "People's lives are literally at stake here," said Lenny Mathews, a vocational nurse from California who joined the protest.
Like almost all the protests held in Beantown last week, both ended peacefully.