Tulare’s hospital CEO has branched out into a new arena: finance.
Research by the Voice has revealed that a new healthcare finance company, Vi Healthcare Finance, Inc, was registered at the home address of Dr. Benny Benzeevi, CEO of Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA) the company which runs Tulare Regional Medical Center (TRMC).
That company was recently considered by the Southern Inyo Healthcare District Board of Directors for a line of credit, though the Voice has been unable to confirm whether the board voted to approve the loan.
The line of credit is both to repay existing debt to HCCA and fund the district’s ongoing operational expenses.
A presentation from a May board meeting showed that the Southern Inyo district owed HCCA upwards of $1m in management fees and $813,184 in a line of credit extended from the hospital management company; the Southern Inyo district had only repaid $346,383 as of the meeting.
A resolution up for for consideration by the district’s board of directors on July 11, again on July 15, and once more on July 19, stated that the company was “willing to extend a line of credit to the District and to loan funds to the District pursuant to such line of credit from time to time, which line of credit will be secured by the anticipated tax revenues of the District.”
The company was registered with the California Secretary of State’s office on June 30 of this year, with papers signed by Bruce Greene, the same attorney that represents both Tulare Local Healthcare District and HCCA.
Greene also signed off on HCCA’s incorporation papers after it was chosen as the hospital’s operating partner.
Benzeevi spoke to the Voice and confirmed his involvement with the new company, but wanted to make clear that it’s a separate enterprise, unrelated to his other ventures.
Benzeevi, in addition to being President/CEO of HCCA, is also the president of Medflow, a company that was originally contracted to assist TRMC with its emergency room services. Another business, Tulare Asset Management, is also registered at the same address as Vi Healthcare Finance.
“[Vi] is a lending company that lends money,” Benzeevi said. “It has nothing to do with Tulare – Inyo has a need and it’s an offering for them.”
While the company did offer the Southern Inyo Healthcare District a loan, Benzeevi stated that the company isn’t specifically targeting the Lone Pine hospital or Tulare’s.
“We have a lot of businesses. This just happens to be something that came to — it has nothing to do with anybody, anywhere.”
He added that there are not many lenders focusing on hospitals or healthcare providers.
“It wasn’t formed due to any of the hospitals. If a hospital happens to be a borrower,” Benzeevi said, “we’re willing to entertain the hospital as a borrower.”
Although HCCA has two standing authorizations granted by the hospital’s board of directors to seek and execute loans, Benzeevi reiterated that Vi’s financing operation was unrelated.
“If Tulare has a need, [Vi] could be for them too. But it has nothing to do with any of these hospitals,” he said. “[Southern Inyo] has a need, and that company lends money. It has nothing to do with HCCA or any of the other companies. It’s its own different business.”
On March 22, HCCA was authorized to seek approximately $79m — intended to both fund completion of the hospital’s beleaguered tower project and redeem existing bonds — from both HUD-backed lenders and alternative financiers, to find the option that would work the best for the hospital’s needs.
More recently, on June 20, HCCA was authorized to seek a $22m loan to cover operating expenses and repayment of existing debt.
Benzeevi made clear that the hospital’s leadership hadn’t found a suitable lender for the loans yet — including any options with Vi Healthcare.
“I have no plans at this point. At this point in time – what we want to do is find the best terms and lowest interest rate,” he said.
“I don’t know that Vi is the one to do that.”