By John Straka
As we come to decision time on the hospital ballot issue, there is really only one question that needs to be answered: will moving the hospital from a private hospital to a public one solve the problem that led to the crisis? I don’t think so.
For starters, this should never have been a ballot issue to begin with. Unfunded mandates required the hospital to provide medical services to illegals and drug addicts in the amount of $20 million dollars. That took the hospital from $16 million in the black to $4 million in the red. Changing the hospital into a public entity will not change that, only who’s responsible for a budget shortfall.
This problem will be further exacerbated by the more than 300,000 illegals that have crossed the border since April. They are being shipped to areas without local or state officials knowledge or consent. These people have diseases that run the gambit from tuberculosis to STDs to a reported disease that is terminal without an antidote. There is no protection for the communities they are being sent to, becoming a burden none of us can accommodate or afford.
Next, how did we get here in the first place? Because the “medical”that is being provided through Obamacare, is Medicaid. It pays between 35% and 60% of the “cost” of a medical procedure. By design it was constructed to leave the hospital in this predicament. Plus, per Senator Hargrove, there are different rates for public hospitals and private hospitals. There are separate rates again for large hospitals and small hospitals. By backing the hospital into this corner, the state shifts the cost of medical services from their responsibility to property owners.
If the state can arbitrarily decide rates and hospital ownership, what guarantees do we have they will honor a long-term agreement? While the legislature “says” if we make this a public hospital, and “allowing” a 70% reimbursement what will prevent them from changing the reimbursement rate to say 60% again or even lower, to cover other budget “shortfalls”? They already did this with rates they paid the hospital for Stafford Creek inmates, to cover budget shortfalls, by deciding to pay the hospital rates that did not cover costs.
(Will) Making this a public hospital solve any of these problems? The legislature created the problem and this is not anymore a solution than the legislature’s answer to school funding.
In addition, the ballot measure also does not address the responsibility of unfunded pensions, lawsuits, bonds, or debt. To walk through this door would be insane. We have to look at a solution we can afford and addresses the issues that got us here in the first place and this does none of that.
While we’re on the subject, where is “Support Our Hospital” getting its funding? Signage, color print media ads, and slick direct mail aren’t cheap. – Ed.