Grays Harbor Public Hospital District? (See, I Told You So)

Public domain
Public domain

Who won the debate? Ted Cruz. The conservative firebrand – been waiting to use that phrase for like, forever – showed once again why messin’ with a pit bull isn’t a great idea.  Marco Rubio and Chris Christie had some impressive moments as well. Biggest loser? CNBC. Also known as DNC shills in cheaper suits.

On the local front, I hate to drag out the old “See? I told you so” tap dance. But hey! In light of Wednesday’s story in The Daily World, Hospital District Will Go After Levy Dollars, some of us did try to tell you so.  Especially liked this part:

The hospital district spans from Montesano west to the beaches, covering all of the property between. The levy would mean that an owner of a $100,000 home within the district — which covers all but the far eastern portion of Grays Harbor County — will pay $50 in property tax to the hospital in addition to what they already pay to other taxing entities. (Emphasis added.)

Some of us were beating this drum when the question was on the ballot last year. It went like this:

“The hospital district spans from Montesano west to the beaches, covering all of the property between. The levy would mean that an owner of a $100,000 home within the district — which covers all but the far eastern portion of Grays Harbor County — will pay $50 in property tax to the hospital in addition to what they already pay to other taxing entities.

The question of the formation of a public hospital district in Grays Harbor is breathing hot and heavy down most everyone’s neck this election cycle. This measure has revved up the Chicken Little crowd like A.J. Foyt at the Indy 500. It’s Our Hospital signs have sprouted up like overnight mushrooms. Pro interviews have blanketed the air waves like a pea soup fog. Organized opposition is zero.

With ballots going out this week, here’s the short response on the question of a Grays Harbor Hospital District: No.  Here’s the short, short version of why:

Follow the $

Speaking of following the moola, Sens. Hargrove and Hatfield’s roles in the whole public hospital thing have been curiously absent from much of this debate. This dynamic duo co-sponsored SB 5859, “providing enhanced payment to small rural hospitals that meet the criteria of a sole community hospital.” Bill digest:

Increases payments for recipients eligible for certain medical assistance programs when services are provided by a rural hospital certified by the centers for medicare and medicaid services as a sole community hospital.

Translation:  Either Grays Harbor Community Hospital “goes public” to receive higher Medicaid reimbursement rates, or no moola.

The old carrot and stick routine?

According to a March 13, 2014 report by The Daily World, “language (was) added to the bill stating a hospital must be owned and operated by a state or political subdivision… in order to receive reimbursement,” and was included as a “last resort” to get the bill out of committee.

I’m not going to rehash hospital financials, assets and liabilities and all that cool stuff here. That’s already been done elsewhere. And elsewhere. I am going to ask why Grays Harbor taxpayers should be burdened with the debts accrued by this private company when a perfectly good legal remedy already exists for that kind of thing. It’s called filing for bankruptcy.

Contrary to the run for your lives, duck and cover, May day! May day! fear-mongering that’s been running rampant on this question, the hospital won’t close and Harborites won’t be forced to head to Olympia for medical care if this measure doesn’t pass. (I’m pretty sure the sky won’t fall, either.) Bankruptcy court can allow the hospital to reorganize and restructure its debt while it continues to function – without soaking taxpayers in the process.

Meanwhile, this deal offers a golden hat trick opportunity to present a coherent argument in opposition to the measure and speak up for tax payers, hold Sens. Hargrove (D-Hoquiam) and Hatfield’s (D-Raymond) feet to the fire, and extol the “virtues” of that DemoLib Top Ten fave, Obamacare.

But you already knew that.

Ballots are due back August 5.”

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This post originally appeared on July 16, 2014 under the title “Grays Harbor Public Hospital District? Follow the Moola.”

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