Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Voters Nix Hospital District In Close Election

Goodall-Witcher to continue to operate at deficit - $800K

The economics of ObamaCare are easy to understand once you
get up close and personal with it.

As a Certified Texas Retirement Community, Clifton and
Bosque County are required to have a hospital.

The designation has its advantages when it comes to grants
and government programs that benefit senior citizens.

The question: Who is going to pay for it?

After the Congressional adoption of the ObamaCare package,
the Federal Department of Health and Human Services proposes
to cut the Part B fees they pay doctors by 21 percent across
the board.

The problem is that in the face of federal cutbacks designed
to insure all Americans and provide health care services,
the Goodall-Witcher Hospital is hard pressed to continue to
provide health care services. The hospital is a Qualified
Rural Health Care Facility under federal guidelines.

To qualify, such facilities must be located in a rural area,
take a team approach to health care that involves a role for
physicians's assistants and nurse practitioners, and be
located in a state that allows medical treatment to be
performed by qualified non-physicians.

Goodall-Witcher Hospital's books show a steadily increasing
operational deficit. Last year, the balance sheet showed a
net loss of $800,000, according to Clarence Fields,
administrator of the clinic and hospital that provides
services to the Bosque County area.

The deficit is adjusted from the amounts of charge-offs and
allowances that apply to a charity cost in 2009 of
$1,586,611 and a bad debt load of $1,151,493 for that year.

Voters rejected the creation of a hospital district in a
close special election yesterday. Though 922 voted to
create the new taxing district, 1,090 voted against it.

The district would have had an initial tax rate of .10 per
$100 in appraised value of taxable property - with a cap of
.25 per $100 in valuation. A successful creation of the
hospital district would have pumped badly needed money into
the failing local system.

What's next? "I can't say," Mr. Fields said. "At this
point, we're only 16 and a half hours past the election and
it's just too early to tell."

This much he does know.

The 21 percent cutback in Part B will affect what the
doctors and the hospital is paid for all essential hospital
services such as routine daily physician bedside visits and
care, pathology services, anesthetics, surgical procedures
and radiological diagnoses, to name only a few.

If the hospital is forced to close its doors?

Mr. Fields predicts a domino effect. There will be a loss
of jobs in a county where the number one industry is health
care, a loss of residents in nursing facilities in the
communities of Meridian, Clifton and Valley Mills - the
second largest source of employment - and no local access to
emergency and trauma care.

What would the district have cost taxpayers?

On a property assessed at $50,000, at a rate of .10 per
$100, the approximate monthly cost would have been $4.20.

This would compare to tax rates in neighboring counties of
.25 in Comanche, .164 in Hamilton, and .1534 in South

All current property tax exemptions for homestead, veterans,
agricultural use, wildlife and over 65 would still apply.
Those who are over 65 would qualify for a "ceiling" that
limits the school districts of the county to the amount of
tax the property owner paid in the year they qualified for
the exemption, but does not apply to the hospital district.

The board of the district would have consisted of four
members with an at-large member, to be appointed for
staggered terms until the next May election when two would
have been replaced or retained according to voter

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