Letter to Editor | Please Sign Hospital District Petition

— from Art Lange —

I am writing to encourage everyone in our community who is a registered voter to sign the petition that is being circulated over the next few weeks regarding placing a Public Hospital District for Orcas Island on the April 2018 ballot. I am signing this petition because it will give all the members of our community an opportunity to engage in an ongoing public discussion between now and April 2018.

That discussion will enable us to learn more about this issue and to decide how we want to ensure that all the members of our community have access to high quality primary and urgent care (including after-hours care) in a financially sustainable and predictable manner now and for generations to come. There will be many opportunities and forums to discuss this issue between now and April 2018. I believe the issue of health care is of great concern to many of the members of our community. Signing this petition will begin a process that will give us all an opportunity to learn about and discuss the issue and ultimately to cast our votes.

Oddly by Washington state law, any district that provides health care services in any form must be called a “Public Hospital District.” The petition being circulated has nothing to do with creating a hospital on Orcas. The measure that will be placed on the ballot in April 2018 is only intended to ensure the provision of primary and urgent care for everyone.

This is a very complex issue and a great deal more information will be available between now and April 2018. Right now, it is important that the measure gets on the ballot so that we can have the appropriate public discussions.

Please join me in signing the petition that will be circulating widely throughout the island.

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Letter to Editor | Please Sign Hospital District Petition — 10 Comments

  1. Art I do not agree with you on the matter of the urgency to sign your request to place a ballot issue before the voters. Let’s have the discussion first and sign things after we know something. I do not see why the petition is tied to or required in order to have a discussion and learn more about the proposal. How can you ask voters to sign onto a ballot issue when we know next to nothing of the details?

    The petition is pre mature.

  2. I don’t think “let’s put it on the ballot, so we can talk about it” is sufficient reason to sign the petition.

    The information that has come out so far indicates that The Orcas Medical Foundation signed an agreement with the UW Physicians Network that is dependent upon the creation of a hospital district in the April 2018 election (see III.(D) of the agreement below). And lays out the contribution expected by the Orcas Medical Foundation to cover the losses, presumably to be funded by this hospital district.

    In this rush to get things on the ballot “so we can talk about complicated things”, I sense a lack of transparency, and I will not be signing the petition at this time. Clearly the well-intentioned people pushing the petition already have some detailed plans for what the hospital district will be doing, and how much that will cost.

    Why not share that now?


  3. One further objection to this rush: the nominations for commissioners will be due in January, if I’m right. So we should understand all the issues by then. Have the Foundation or the Committee selected their candidates yet?

    The agreement shows that the OIMF has committed to paying UW about $500,000 a year. And that may include $500,000 accrued even before the hospital district–if there is to be one–begins operations.

    Another point of interest is that the pro forma–if I read it correctly– shows that UW expects 5000 patient VISITS, with Medicare patients and private insurance patients making up all but 2%. 1% Medicaid and 1% private pay only. How is this supposed to cover all the residents of the island? That leaves 100 visits for the Medicaid patients and the uninsured.

    The public needs details about what decisions have already been made for it.

  4. Why in the world would you sign anything without knowing all the details and ramifications of the program.
    who does the program benefit and who does it leave out. Are the facilities only intended for a privileged few who sponsor this.
    There are too many unanswered questions and financial details worked out before I sign this petition.

  5. I am hoping Art (or others who have drafted this petition) can explain why we are expected to sign a petition when we don’t fully know what we are petitioning for? I’m trying not to feel paranoid but why the secrecy?

  6. Come on Folks, lets be nice.
    I am not up on all of the issues, but signing a petition only gets it on the ballot.
    For it to pass an election, it will require getting voters behind the issue. Something that is historically hard to do on Orcas.
    I will sign the petition. I cannot say I will vote for it, but I will do my part to make our Democratic process work.

  7. Such an important issue should of been discussed before asking for signatures. Does the community get a cross section of the population from the members of the coalition? Not a good start. Sign here ! Details will come later.

  8. Why would anyone object to putting this issue on the ballot? I have lived in several States over the years and every critical issue–constitutional amendments, tax issues, school funding issues etc etc–is put on the ballot, position papers both for and against are written and distributed, and, then, debated. It is pointless to argue over an issue that is not on the ballot ie what are we going to argue about or debate? Something that is not on the ballot?

  9. I would argue against it because the PHD concept provides very broad powers and obligations, and there has been no public discussion whatsoever of how the District would go about using these taxes. In particular, there has been no discussion of what will happen to “uncompensated care”–patients who are uninsured and cannot afford health they require. This is an immensely complicated undertaking, and those who wish to be candidates must file in January. In my view, based on 40 years in healthcare finance, this is putting the cart before the horse.

  10. One important detail came to my attention…that was that there seems to be a wide template for the definition of what medical/therapeutic services could be funded, and it will be up to the commissioners for the hospital district to decide. Think alternate medicine, chiropractic, therapies NOT covered under health insurance, etc.
    I think that it’s details like this that we need info on….You begin to share some info in your third paragraph, Art. Give us more.
    It’s also unfortunate that the start-up of UW Medicine at the Medical Center, Monday to be exact, happened at the same time as we’re being asked to get a hospital district on the ballot… One might think it will be a recipient of funding…yes, but every other “medical” operation on Orcas will also be considered . I’m interested in that process.