— by Joe Cohen —
Along with 200+ other Orcas residents, I attended the UW Medicine briefing at Orcas Center of Thursday September 7th. My take away from the conversation is simply this:
As a community we have finally started down a path that will ultimately serve our collective ‘heath care’ interests.
This conclusion is based in part on the professionalism that UW Medicine has demonstrated in every interaction (meeting) with our community and in particular from the implementation transition that is underway. I came away with a deep appreciation of UW Medicine and the assembled Medical Center staff (existing and new). The experience so far is all positive.
There will of course be bumps in the road as UW Medicine assumes full responsibility for the clinic. Yet I have every confidence that things will smooth out and we will begin to enjoy a better experience for all.
To achieve the stability of this operation will require a Public Hospital Taxing District. Art Lange provided a brief overview of what this means for those who own property. A maximum rate of 75 cents per $ 1000 of property valuation is specified. For real estate valued at $500,000 the contribution to our community is $ 375. For the million dollar home owner – the contribution is $750.
What is this ‘contribution to our community’? It is the ‘tax’ we will pay to enjoy health care benefits for the entire community. Yes, it is a tax. But it is also a contribution to our community on Orcas. Think of it as a small measure of philanthropy by those who owns property for the benefit of ALL who live and visit here.
As OICF Executive Director Hilary Canty pointed out: “Our health care system at the Medical Center has been subsidized for many years by philanthropic contributions from donors who cared passionately about medical care. A public hospital district is a new (different) source for the needed funding.”
We will soon enjoy the freedom to choose and elect Commissioners for a proposed taxing district. Those chosen will represent our interests. I am both confident and grateful that there are capable and committed citizens who will step forward and serve in this very important capacity. Those chosen will devote considerable time and effort to this endeavor and deserve our thanks in advance.
One last thought. Many of us have Medicare, prescription drug and supplemental insurance plans. Combined insurance premiums may range from $ 500 to $ 1000+ per month (or more). The small tax we will contribute under the public hospital district will be (for most) less than one month of insurance premiums.
I like to think of what we will contribute as a very small insurance cost to ensure the health of our community.