Saturday, September 12, 2009

On the MPTF long-term care facility closure

Left: Our own JOHN SPAREY, whose caricatures and artwork have adorned this very blog, attended the meeting. John is a resident of the Frances Goldwyn Lodge at the MPTF campus in Woodland Hills (which is not affected by the announced closures.)

Thursday night, September 10, Guild members met to hear both sides of the argument regarding the announced closing of the Motion Picture and Television Fund's hospital and long term care facility (skilled nursing) in Woodland Hills.

There were two presentations made, one from Ken Scherer and Mark Fleischer of the Motion Picture and Television Fund, which operate the Wasserman Campus and seven MPTF clinics which are an integral part of TAG members' Motion Picture Industry Health Plan.

Since January, there's been a dispute between the Fund and family and friends of MPTF long term care residents ("Saving the Lives of Our Own") who will soon be relocated from the Woodland Hills campus to other long-term care facilities in the area.

Friends and family don't believe the closure of long-term care is warranted or necessary. The MPTF board maintains that long term care is a huge drain on MPTF cash reserves because it runs large annual deficits, and has to be closed so that the Fund won't run out of money.

Mr. Scherer and Mr. Fleischer told meeting attendees the following:

* The long-term care facility has lost $10 million per year, which next year will rise to $12 million ($1 million per month).

* The on-site hospital has been under-utilized for some years; the ICU, with 7 beds, had an average occupancy of one patient and was running a deficit of $1 million per year.

* Long-term care patients are not being abandoned but have been asked to move to one of 22 long-term care facilities that the Fund has vetted.

* Long-term care patients have not died because of trauma caused by changes at the facility of the prospect of a move. Residents have died at the same rate in 2009 as in 2007 or 2008, before any announcement of closure was made.

* More than 200 assisted care and independent residents will continue to live at the Wasserman campus in Woodland Hills, and their situations will not change.

* No MPTF funds were lost to Bernie Madoff, since no money was invested with him. However, the Fund's investment portfolio suffered losses in late 2008 and early 2009 when the markets dropped 50%.

At the end of the presentation, Scherer and Fleischer took a half-hour of questions, after which representatives from "Saving the Lives of Our Own" (Nancy Biederman, Daniel Quinn, John Sparey, and Richard Stellar), made a presentation:

* For every occupied bed in Long Term Care, the MPTF receives $130,065 annually.

* Top management at MPTF (four people) received $2,002,465.00 in salaries, benefits and expenses in 2007.

* Transfer trauma: Within the first sixty days of the announcement of closure, 12 residents died at the MPTF facility; five more died within days or weeks of transfer.

*CEO David Tillman has said that "No amount of donations or fund-raising would change the MPTF's decision to close the long-term care facility."

* Some residents were moved to other levels of care at the home and are now frightened about admitting that they have an injury or illness, for fear that they will be moved off the property.

* Long term care and rehab admissions no longer exist on campus.

Above: President Koch listens as Mark Fleischer (MPTF Board Member, as well as grandson of Max and son of Richard Fleischer) and Ken Scherer of the Motion Picture and Television Fund defend the decision to close the facilities.

The two sides agree on various points: That the initial announcement of closing was badly handled. That the campus hospital is losing money. That there is an ongoing deficit. ("Saving Our Own" maintains this is from mismanagement.)

Some of the things disagreed on: that there are "luxury condos" going to be built where the hospital and long term care facility now stand, that residents have died because of stress and trauma (Mark Fleischer stated that his mother was a Long Term Care resident at the time he voted as a board member to close the unit. "It was a painful decision and we tried to avoid it, but the whole campus and Fund are at risk if we don't stop the millions in deficits.")

Above: Richard Stellar and Nancy Biederman of Saving The Lives Of Our Own, a group dedicated to preventing the closure of the MPTF facilities.

My take away from all that I heard Thursday night was that initial communication about the closure was fumbled, that the "Save Our Own" group is sincerely motivated and stressed out about what's happening to their loved ones, but that the Woodland Hills retirement campus and the Motion Picture and Television Fund have big financial problems stemming from the MPTF's portfolio investments heading south and the drop in fund-raising (because many people's investment portfolios have also gone south.)

Nobody appears to dispute that there are money problems (i.e., flows of red ink) although "Saving Our Own" believes the problems our surmountable without closing Long Term Care.

Whichever side you believe to be right, we urge you to follow the links, investigate what's going on, and make up your own mind.


Nancy said...

Thank you for inviting us to share information with TAG 839 members. Your hospitality and participation in the session made for a comfortable evening. With your permission, I'd like to provide additional clarification.
Regarding building plans for the campus, the following is from a Jan. 14 Q&A that is found on the Fund's website:

Q:You talk about expanding your ability to help seniors age in place. What does this mean? What exactly do you plan to do?

A: .... In addition, we plan to replace the outdated Frances Goldwyn Lodge and the cottages on the middle campus with spacious new independent-living and assisted-living centers and we intend to build a new Harry’s Haven with more beds than the current facility to provide memory care.

The spacious new residences were described as multi-story condo types by CEO David Tillman on Jan. 21.

Unknown said...

Here are just 2 of the very important facts that Mr. Fleischer neglected to mention:

-of the 22 nursing facilities that supposedly have been vetted by MPTF, 5 or 6 of those accepting a portion of their payments from MediCAL are decent facilities (per Mr Scherer in public statements and social services at the MPTF Home) but nowhere near the quality of care at our Motion Picture Home. And there are waiting lists and just plain no room at these few as well.

Fact - During the life of the MPTF there have been numerous financial hardships including the Depression and WWII. Today's financial woes are not the end of the Fund any more than they were in 1929.

As the AP, Forbes and others reported, Friday’s market closed within a tenth of a point of the closing figure on September 10, 2001:
“The Dow Jones industrial average is down 22 at 9,605.41. That is nearly identical to the Dow’s finish of 9,605.51 eight years ago, the day before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.”

And it is not just the Dow. Look at the S&P 500.

S&P 500 on 9/11/2001: 1092.54
S&P 500 on 1/20/2009: 805.22 (Bush's last day)
S&P 500 on 9/11/2009: 1044.14

Please read as much information as possible about the reasons behind, as well as the reasons moving forward (there is a plan for this property) with the closure of the Long Term Care Home. Information is out there - Visit the home - see the patients that are being affected by this decision and were promised this would be their final home, and you will be reminded of the original mission of this Fund, which keeps getting lost in all the rhetoric:
WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN......thank you

Anonymous said...

Thank you for opening a discussion about the MPTF situation.
In the caption of Mr. Sparey, it says that by living at the Lodge, he's not affected by the Long Term Care facility closure. Not so. The truth is that the moment he (or any other resident on campus living at the Lodge, the Stark Villa, or the Country House) has a fall, a stroke, or anything catastrophic, will be shipped off-campus for treatment, and will end up in one of the hell-hole nursing homes that MPTF is recommending. So the promise of "Taking Care of Our Own" is bogus.
MP Management keep showing up at all these Guild meetings, but they're not telling the Truth. They're trying to spin a horrible decision into something you're supposed to think is the only solution. Do not drink their Kool Aid!
Every single member of the entertainment industry is affected by this decision. It's your future and your kid's future!
Also it's important to note that the term "stressed out" referencing the families is inaccurate. These folks are totally focused on the pursuit of the Truth, and reversing MP's decision, and are working tirelessly to achieve the correct outcome for all of us!
I thank them for every minute of every day for their hard work.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Mr. Fleischer, his mother transferred out on a preferential basis in early February to a highly rated SNF. Other residents whose assets were depleted at MPTF based on the promise of this being their home until they died, do not find themselves in the same circumstances. Most of these residents, or their family members, contributed a portion of their earnings to MP for many years. They are now being pressured to leave the Home and the community that they, and all eligible industry members, were promised.

Anonymous said...

Some residents made contributions to the MPTF, others didn't. It's not a requirement for residency.

The idea that residents "paid in" to being there isn't true. There is no pay in.

The only requirement is that people can prove they worked in the industry twenty years, union or not union.

Union member said...

Most (not some) residents have signed over their lives savings and assets to live in the Home, and they or their private insurers pay over $10,000 a month for them to live there.

If the facility were operating at full capacity it would be grossing $14 million a year.

But the MPTF money men decided several years ago that they didn't want to operate a nursing home (old people are gross and troublesome), so they selectively and knowingly reduced the admissions to the facility to ensure it posted a deficit.

That's illegal, of course, so they did it sneakily, but they did it.

The same guys who are shutting down this nursing home are the same guys who've been trying to screw rank-and-file members of every Guild in Hollywood out of sharing the wealth from the product we helped to create.


It's wrong and we've got to stop it. 1000 have already signed our on-line and printed petitions. Please add your name at

Anonymous said...

If tha is true then there should be no problem getting everyone behind this cause.
Do you have facts?

Anonymous said...

I was at the presentation.

According to Mr. Fleischer and Mr. Scherer, nobody signs over their assets to the MPTF. I've never heard this disputed.

What is true, is that living there costs several thousand dollars a month, and when individuals spend down their assets to zero, the MPTF takes their monthly pension and Social Security, and carries the person at a deficit.

Anonymous said...

That's illegal, of course, so they did it sneakily, but they did it.

If it's illegal, "doing it sneakily" doesn't make it less illegal.

What laws have been broken? And when will charges be filed?

David G. said...

Where there is no will, there is no way. The board wants the hospital closed for their own personal reasons, not the money loss. Huge corporations like the auto companies run huge losses, but we find ways to bail them out because they are essential. These MPTF honchos have no compassion nor interest in living up to their predessesors promises -- that the home would be there for us for all the future. Damn the MPTF frauds that are doing this to us entertainment folks. To be stabbed in the back by our own. Et Tu, Brute? D.G.

Steve Hulett said...

David G.,

That might well be true. The various Boards of Directors could be doing these closings for their own (unspecified) bad reasons. They might be serving gratis on these boards so that they can do in old people. But nobody disputes that the hospital is losing large sums of money. And I haven't seen any facts to counter the assertion that the Long Term Care facility is losing money.

So what needs to be done? Audience members on Thursday night suggested that more and better fund raisers could be thrown, that the MPTF could do a better job of raising money from Hollywood's "super rich."

Ken Scherer said that the super rich ask him the questions like why they should give big money to the Fund when big deficits are being run, and how long will the big deficits go on, and why should they (the big donor) throw good money after bad?

Now maybe Scherer is blowing smoke. I met him for the first time Thursday night and don't know him from Adam. Maybe the finances aren't really in big trouble and all the unpaid board members who've gotten "manipulated" by the paid staff are really blood suckers after all.

I would just like to see some actual, documented proof in that regard.

You're right about the auto companies, but you're making an emotional argument comparing apples to persimmons. (It's doubtful that the government is going to bail out smallish charitable organizations.)

I totally get the emotional argument; I have an eighty-four year old mother in frail health and I wouldn't like to see her thrown out of a good Long Term care facility. The question is, will keeping it open bankrupt the MPTF in 4-7 years?

Maybe the folks who want to keep the Long Term Care facility open are totally right, that keeping the facility open is no problem, and won't impact the financial viability of the Motion Picture and Television Fund.

But if they're wrong, then the whole Woodland Hills campus closes, and the network of MPTF health clinics that are the lynch pins for 60,000 IA participants in the Motion Picture Industry Health Plan go down, and those 60,000 MPIPHP participants will have way bigger medical bills.

Anonymous said...

Where there is no will, there is no way

Anybody can raise money for the MPTF. Who will step forward?

Anonymous said...

Union member wrote most residents signed over their savings and assets to live in the Home. That's true in that MPTF is careful to stay at arm's length from transactions. Instead they introduce residents to financial planners and lawyers who will assist in setting up trusts, annuities, or securing assets in other ways, including bequests.
MPTF interpreted a recent multi-million dollar bequest for the Country Home as restricted from use to directly offset losses from the hospital. Caveat testator.

Many residents do sell their homes and other assets to move to the campus. As described by Anonymous 1:30, the Fund will subsidize those in assisted or independent living who have used up their assets on a case by case basis. However, when those in the skilled nursing facility (at a cost of $10,500 per month or more) use up their assets, the MPTF takes their pension and Social Security, and Medi-Cal pays the balance to MPTF.
MPTF does not subsidize the daily cost for those in the nursing home.

Anonymous said...

The same guys who are shutting down this nursing home are the same guys who've been trying to screw rank-and-file members of every Guild in Hollywood out of sharing the wealth from the product we helped to create.


Excuse me. Board members of the MPTF include Michael Douglas, Warren Beatty, Anette Benning, all known lefties.

It has Heather Locklear and Kevin Spacey.

It has the head of the Directors Guild (Jay Roth) and the head of the IATSE. It has Lew Wasserman's widow.

It also has the head of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, so yeah, there is a producers' rep in the mix. But let's just not say "the board is trying to screw the little people" unless there is some proof, okay?

Anonymous said...

Michael Douglas, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, Kevin Spacey, Heather Locklear are on the MPTF Foundation board. The Foundation board did not vote to close the facilities. In fact the non-profit Foundation whose purpose it was to raise money for the Fund, was dissolved in 2007. MPTF donors and those in residence or in the MPTF's care were not notified.

MPTF has no desire to raise money for the most infirm and neediest. Solid offers to raise funds, and actual donations for the purpose of keeping the skilled nursing facility open, were rejected as unwanted.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to members of the animation local for engaging in this conversation. In the end this whole issue is really simple.

Either the MPTF leadership will shamefully abandon the organization's its founding mission because they don't want to be in the charity business anymore or members of the community will stand up and demand that the MPTF do its job as originally conceptualized 88 years ago.

Its all about leadership. If MPTF leadership wants to raise money to do its founding mission the money can be raised. This community is enormously generous. Its a choice. If current leadership doesn't want to do the founding mission they should step aside and be replaced by industry leaders who will.

Anonymous said...

Both the corporate board and board of trustees of the MPTF voted unanimously to close the acute care and long-term care facilities.

Here's who was on the corporate board:

Frank G. Mancuso, Chairman
Richard W. Cook
J. Nicholas Counter, III
Frank I. Davis
Roger H. Davis,
Joseph A. Fischer
Mark Fleischer
Jim Gianopulos
Cheryl Boone Isaacs
William A. Jones
Jeffrey Katzenberg
Richard Masur
Roger L. Mayer
Robert Osher
Robert Pisano
Patrick B. Purcell
Jay D. Roth
Thomas Sherak
Thomas C. Short
Karen Stuart
David Tillman, MD
Casey Wasserman

The board includes the heads of movie companies, also the leaders of the directors guild and the IATSE. Also Richard Masur, former two term president of SAG.

I don't think all of these people were manipulated into voting to close the facilities. I don't think all these people have ulterior motives for the closings, or disdain the elderly.

If somebody has proof that these people do, they should lay it out.

Anonymous said...

old people and babies. ahh, the cornerstones of all political posturing.

Unknown said...

The night before the Oscars this year the MPTF raised 5.5 million dollars. A couple of parties like deficit.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think all of these people were manipulated into voting to close the facilities."

Oh, I sure do.

Seriously: I remember when this "badly handled" (to put it mildly) decision was announced, and in the fallout afterward where so many were asking what the hell the board was thinking, that the explanation given by those who didn't directly concoct this plan was: they were presented with a sine qua non of "it HAS to be closed: here are the figures". Etc.
It was presented as "no other way". Well, frankly, when ANYTHING is put as "NO amount of money will rescue this setup" my hackles go up. And it smells to high heaven.

The major film studioss have operated "in the red" for decades, yet their administrative salaries have stayed up or even gone up(to in many cases ludicrous, Louis XVI amounts). How does that work? How famously murky and self-serving-not to say illegal-is that accounting?

And yes, these are the same names and types of thinking that are closing the long term care facility.
It's wrong. I don't care if it is supposedly "losing money" and am not convinced that it's FACT that if they don't do this there will be NO facility at all.

Question: are any of those on this board, who voted, expecting to use the Home themselves in their old age? ANY of them?

The answer speaks volumes.

Richard said...

If you have to take away one point made at the presentation, I'm hoping it's the message that the MPTF simply does not want the Long Term Care facility. We don't think they have that right.

We expressed the facts that if the LTC were operating at capacity, or even near-capacity, it would be a revenue producing juggernaut that would once again be considered a world class care facility.

Ken Scherer would not sit with us at the dais and engage in a frank and open discussion. This should speak volumes as to their hidden agenda.

Thanks very much for giving us the opportunity to present the truth.

Richard Stellar

Anonymous said...

"...a revenue producing juggernaut...."

Interesting choice of words for an old folks home. Brings lots of funny, perhaps disturbing, images to my mind, but okay.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing funny at all about this situation.

I can list a lot of famous names who made films that in the aggregate are far greater in every way than any we'll probably ever get to work on. ALL were able to live at the Home--AND also to grow enfeebled and die there, in a place surrounded by their own.
It's some list, believe me. You needn't be some kind of special film geek to recognize them. And then of course for every one of those names, there are thousands of those who were just as blessed to have partaken in motion picture production in its golden age and beyond who aren't "famous".

So what's being proposed for the first time ever is that all of us now at the Home, soon to be at the home, or destined after who knows what life situations for the Home to only get to stay until (as said before) we need more assistance than the average Leisure World resident(who btw are mostly if not all quite moneyed, which is why they get to live there).

The idea and phrase "Taking Care Of Our Own" was conceived and put into practice by a hell of a lot of financially conservative people as well as plenty of those whose economics were much more liberal, politically and otherwise. They were republicans and democrats, jews and christians and agnostics and atheists. They all came together-in less than flush times and through lots of struggles-to make a place for retired film folk to live a reality. As I say, just like those in power now, I don't think any of the founders themselves had to use the Home's facilities-most died in their own homes or at hospitals of their choosing, money or options such as round-the-clock care not an issue for them...but for some reason they still felt it was an imperative that it be brought into being.

Is there any doubt that they'd be disgusted at the unraveling of their hard work and of staking their personal fortunes (in a time of much higher income taxes) to create a lasting legacy for us?

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