Kremmling Memorial Hospital District explores options for countywide health care | SkyHiNews.com

Kremmling Memorial Hospital District explores options for countywide health care

In addition to the presidential race and other ballot issues, local voters in this November’s election may also be asked to decide the future of medical services in Grand County.

At its January public board meeting, the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District’s board of directors directed the district’s management to pursue the process that could result in placing two questions on the November 2008 ballot.

If these proposals eventually get on the ballot and are approved by all the county’s voters, they would eliminate the current property tax for the hospital district and

replace it with a sales tax, as well as include all of Grand County in the district.

District officials are emphasizing that the board’s directive to develop plans for the ballot initiative are still in the preliminary stage of exploring possibilities and options.

“We want input from all the municipalities in this county and its citizens as we develop a responsible plan,” said Eric Murray, KMHD spokesman. “There’s a lot to be considered and the details are coming together but are subject to change prior to ballot certification this summer. We want to know what people want and how to fulfill their needs with sustainable health care business models.”

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Two parts

As it stands now, the proposed ballot issue would have two questions. The first part would seek to replace the district’s current property tax with a sales tax levy.

The second question would be to ask those voters outside of the current hospital district to become part of a county-wide, locally directed, health services district.

“If both questions pass, it would result in a unified, sales-tax-supported health services district with a newly elected board of directors to govern the operations and development of health facilities and services,” Murray said.

Murray explained the proposed district’s facilities and services could possibly include, but not be limited to the Granby Medical Campus, the Kremmling hospital, recruitment and retention of medical professionals, new and improved equipment and eventual new services, outreach clinics, assisted living and elderly care.

“It would also handle the subsidization of necessary but not necessarily profitable services, indigent care and other services as determined by the new health services district board of directors,” he said.

Murray emphasized again that these proposals are still in the “developmental stage” with the district seeking the opinions of local communities and citizens through public meetings such as the recent meeting held in Hot Sulphur Springs that included a presentation by hospital administration.

A decision about whether to proceed will be made this summer ahead of the deadline for certifying a ballot issue by the Grand County Clerk’s Office in early September.

If the decision is to go forward with the ballot questions and they are both approved in November by voters, “Grand County Health Services District” or “Middle Park Health Services District” will result.

The boundaries of the existing Kremmling Memorial Hospital District include parts of northern Summit County and that part of Grand County surrounding Kremmling. The new district would include that part of northern Summit County and the geographical boundaries of all of Grand County.

If the proposed ballot issue were to be turned down by voters, the District will maintain the status quo, retaining its current boundaries and continuing to levy its current property tax.

Murray said the reason the KMHD board is considering a November ballot is to “ensure the viability and long term sustainability of county-wide health care and to have greater health care access to all communities in the county.”

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