Letter to Editor | Sign the Petition, Then Let’s Discuss

— from JoEllen Moldoff —
I offer the following to support the Coalition for Orcas Health Care petition:
There is a lot of work to be accomplished before we can ask members of our community to vote in April, 2018 on whether or not to approve a Public Hospital District. Signing the petition which is being circulated among us is the first step in beginning a process of educating, informing, and above all, listening with respect, to questions and concerns. Signing the petition does not signify approval.
As a member of COHC I have come to realize how complex and fragile are the health services in our rural community. We are dependent on, and fortunate to have, neighbors who are generous with their time, financial support, and their expertise in health care services, as well as having an incredible Fire Department and EMS team on which we rely for emergency medical care.
I believe that if we sign this petition it will give us the opportunity to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue with our neighbors— to listen and learn from each other — to inform our decisions on the health services proposal when we vote in April.
Please consider signing the Petition to put the Public Hospital District measure on the ballot so that we as a community can address our need for primary and urgent care (including after-hours care).
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Letter to Editor | Sign the Petition, Then Let’s Discuss — 11 Comments

  1. JoEllen,

    Would it be possible for you to publish the names of the members of the coalition so that we can discuss the complexities of the issues with those that we know in the community?

  2. I’m curious why we can’t have the discussions *before* rushing to put on the ballot the question of establishing a new taxing district which would posses rather significant powers?

    See RCW 70.44.060 for what hospital districts can do.


    Does the Coalition have a proposed plan available for review of what this District will be doing?

  3. Exactly my questions, Brian.
    There is a broad range of services that can be provided through a statutory hospital district. All we have heard about to date is using the funds to pay the legal obligation of the OIMF to UW for a “subsidy” estimated to run $750,000 a year. Plus at least $150,000 to run the district, because it will have to have a “Superintendent” and five commissioners. That obligation was not undertaken by the taxpayers. I do not understand the rush, especially given the rapid changes we are seeing in the various health care financing systems.

  4. Justin, A website for COHC will be completed this week. There will be a list of people involved in the coalition, detailed answers to the many questions that are being raised as well as links to number of sites providing further information about rural health care. The address of the website will be posted as soon as it is a published site. Appreciate you patience.

  5. Where is the information located for those who want to be mindful and informed about this issue?

  6. Today, the agreement between the OI Medical Foundation and UW entity was made available. It makes clear that the Foundation and UW expects the taxpayers to accept assignment of the obligations unilaterally assumed by the Foundation and provide more than $500,000 a year to the UW clinic, by means of the Hospital District being proposed.

  7. We do not know anything of detail about this proposal. The headlong rush to the ballot in order to cover the incoming large scale operating expenses shortages is understandable. There is now an agreement with UW to cover these costs. However, the voters should in no way feel obligated as these choices were made by a private organization. If a ballot issue fails(maybe even a few times) I hope the organizers of this as yet half baked idea are ready to get check books out and make good on their promises made to UW.

    Discussion now, petition later.

  8. I think the OIMF calculation is that the balance of past performance weighed against the absolute need on Orcas for healthcare puts them in the catbird’s seat..

    ..Depending on how one measures their past performance as indicative of their present bona fides.

    Just as with the furore over whether the Co-op that supplies power to the island should provide cable access, the core issue is one of Management.

    And as with cable access, it is a matter of our health, and especially the health of the most vulnerable in dire circumstances.

    As a nurse I view healthcare management as uniquely and Absolutely bound to Ethics.. That would be Normative Ethics, not the equivalency of legalities frequently used in management that equates to:
    “It’s ok if you don’t get caught ..and no one can make you. (read the fine print)”

    I think all who have had to “open and say ‘Ahh'” might agree.

    Which brings us to the matter of *Transparency.*
    It would seem that, when words can be so cheap, this governing body would have recognized the imperative to behave in a manner that would address this most pressing concern.


    And yet here we are.
    Kinda’ sorta’ in a position to decide whether or not to unplug Granny .. or do whatever OIMF wants.

    Thanks alot.
    As the management pros that you are, I would suggest you think of a couple of suggestions for restructuring your 501c3 management corporation and how you do business [and by implication how the Commission would as well] to address these concerns ahead of asking all of us, the Public, to squabble over the details of your balancing act.

    ..And pay the tab for Granny or put her on the street.

    So it’s not really up to us the unwashed, but you the management professionals, to provide options.. And not just the Two.

  9. Personally, I have no problem with the petition to put this on the ballot. That will force a discussion and we have plenty of time between now and April to get into the issues that have plagued health care on the island for a long time. I also normally would have no problem with using a tax district as a vehicle to finance this if it is indeed the solution that we desire. We live in an area which is generally tax-friendly. No income tax and a mil rate on property that is pretty low. We also have the advantage that about half of the properties are owned by absentee owners, a not-so-subtle advantage to our permanent residents. Finally, seniors with low income are given an exemption from paying tax district assessments. So, what’s the problem?

    Personally, I am concerned about the cost of health care and however this is presented, it represents an increase in health care costs for everyone while benefiting only those who choose to use this facility. Many of our residents choose to go to the mainland for their health care and all of us have no option but to go to the mainland for specialized care. Then, there is the Orcas Family Health Clinic which has gone to the trouble to get certified as a Rural Health Clinic. Will they lose that certification as a result of this action? Or, why are they not getting a share of the proposed tax revenue? Is it not better to have a choice?

    There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we vote and I, for one, look forward to an informed discussion.

  10. Paul has raised excellent questions for discussion. I’d point out that candidates must file by January. With the holidays, this leaves very little time for meetings and discussion about the issues, which need to be public.