Know the facts on the hospital mill levy vote (Belleville Telescope)

Know the facts on the hospital mill levy vote

Deb Hadachek, Editor The Belleville Telescope

Here’s a math/business quiz for you:

If a business has to pay $1,000 wholesale cost for a product–but then only collects $900 for the product from their customers, how long will they be in business?

It doesn’t take a lot of math skills to know that scenario doesn’t add up.

But that’s the situation Republic County Hospital finds itself in these days, on more than 90 percent of the patients it serves. Reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield make up the lion’s share of the income to the hospital each year. Those three payors reimburse the hospital less than what it costs to provide service to patients.

For many years, the hospital’s budget has been able to cash flow despite bottom line losses. In recent years, however, further cuts by the government–which at the same time piles on more regulations, more expensive demands for electronic health records and other requirements– means that it has become increasingly difficult to keep the bills paid.

Last year the hospital trimmed more than a half million dollars in expenses, mostly by not replacing employees who retired or resigned. Further staff cuts are difficult for a service that is required to be on call for any kind of medical emergency 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The hospital board continues to search for solutions to the conundrum of Long Term Care–one they believe is a valuable and necessary service for the county, and one that provides some 40 jobs here. But because Medicare does not consider Long Term Care to be a “medical” service, it deducts a percentage of reimbursement it would otherwise send to the hospital each year for utilities, maintenance staff and other costs allocated to that space–to the tune of more than $500,000 per year.

On August 5, Republic County voters will be asked to increase the hospital’s mill levy from six mills to up to 12 mills for three years only. The full 12 mills would generate about $380,000 in tax dollars–the hospital does not intend to ask for more than necessary in any given year. If financial solutions aren’t forthcoming in the next three years, the board is prepared to ask voters to approve a sales tax for operations, and reduce the property tax levy.

The hospital board is hosting a series of meetings around the county (upcoming dates can be found on 5A in this issue), and administrator Blaine Miller and board members invite other public or private conversations to answer voters’ questions.

The hospital will continue to operate, but what level of extra services it offers is a question that all voters need to educate themselves about, and take responsibility for, as our county plans for the future.

(Disclaimer: The editor is chairman of the hospital board, and welcomes all comments, questions, and Public Mind letters, for and against, this issue.)

More information can be found on the Republic County Hospital website here – www.rphospital.org/mill-levy-information/

Upcoming meeting dates:

Belleville: Monday, July 21, 9:30 a.m., Feathered Nest
Scandia: Tuesday, July 22, 8:00 a.m., TAGS
Agenda: Wednesday, July 23, 3:00 p.m., Hope Floats
Cuba: Thursday, July 24, 9:00 a.m. Two Doors Down
Munden: Friday, July 25th, 8:00 a.m., Munden Community Hall
Courtland: Wednesday, July 30, 9:00 a.m., Anteaques

For more information contact Blaine Miller at 527-2254.

Click here to see the information sheet from our meetings held around the County!

Below represents the increase in taxes that a 6 mill increase would cost property owners:
1/4 of dry land = $52.78
1/4 irrigated land = $104.09Home apprised:
$50,000 = $34.50
$100,000 = $69.00

  • Republic County Hospital has a total impact on area employment of 285 Jobs. *Economic Impact of Health Care in Republic County (2005)
  • Health Care has a total income impact of $14,473,000 in the Republic County economy.
  • Retirees are the LARGEST economic driver in Republic County* To 60% of retirees health care is an essential service. Meeting their needs is critical in Republic County success. *Republic County Opportunity Assessment (2014)
  • 60% of Retirees say Health Care is a MUST have* 27% of Republic County residents are 65 or over.
    *Economic Impact of Health Care in Republic County (2005)
  • Good Health Care helps to attract new Industry to the County. It is a Quality of Live (QOL) factor.
  • a. Health care services represent some of the most significant QOL factors for at least three reasons. First, good health and education services are imperative to industrial and business leaders as they select a community for location
  • b. Health care services represent some of the most significant QOL factors for at least three reasons. Secondly, when a business or industry makes a location decision, it wants to ensure that the local labor force will be productive, and a key productivity factor is good health.
  • c. The third factor that business and industry consider in location decisions is cost of health care services. sites that provided health care services at a low cost sometimes received priority. Many rural health organizations are committed to fiscal accountability, expressed as quality health care at low cost.
  • Over 1,300 hospitals are Critical Access Hospital. The rural economies supported by these hospitals cannot afford to eliminate the only nearby hospital and one of the largest employers in each community.- RURAL HOSPITALS HURT IN SEQUESTRATION 2011 NRHA (National Rural Health Association)
  • In Republic County, Health Services employs 353 people, 9.3 percent of all job holders in the county.
  • One of the Best Hospitals in the Region – Lets keep it that way!