Eric Murray: Hospital seeking feedback for November Ballot initiative |

Eric Murray: Hospital seeking feedback for November Ballot initiative

Kremmling Memorial Hospital wants the voters of Grand County to empower the district with the ability to ensure the viability and long term sustainability of county-wide healthcare in the November 2008 election.

At first read, I’m sure that statement sounds broad and somewhat vague. That’s because it encompasses a great deal of possibilities, options and, ultimately, choices in the already complex puzzle that is healthcare.

The public is being asked what it wants and how they think it should be done.

An Issue Steering Committee is being formed by many key members of the community including representatives of municipalities, chambers of commerce, local business owners and healthcare providers.

According to Bill Widener, CEO of Kremmling Memorial Hospital, “This committee will gather feedback from the community and work through perceived problems.

“It will also serve to get other perspectives and ideas.”

The hospital board of directors has already green-lighted going forward with the ballot issue, which will be composed of two parts. One part would ask taxpayers in the current district, (part northern Summit County which is pretty much Heeney and part of Grand County which is pretty much the Kremmling area), if they would like to have a sales tax replace the current property tax/mill levy. The second part would ask those outside of the current district if they want to become a part of the district and adopt the sales tax.

“The sales tax would be designed to share the responsibility of healthcare with the tourist base,” Widener said, further explaining that guests often utilize healthcare services and even second home owners have expressed a need for local services.

The board of directors recognizes that there are still many issues to address prior to September when ballot question certification is due. Topics ranging from how much sales tax to impose to defining geographical boundaries must be addressed.

Possible services and the best places to offer these services must also be discussed.

The Issue Steering Committee will develop viable issue options and plans as well as decide on how to best approach the voter base. Once the question wording is finalized the Issue Steering Committee will disband and the Political Issue Committee will be formed in order to comply with the Fair Campaign Practices Act.

New powers were extended to health related special districts in a 2007 legislative decision in order to bring health care to rural communities. House Bill 07-1219 clarified some of the existing powers of these special districts while broadening abilities to provide a broader scope of services. The Issue Steering Committee will be educated on the details of these new statutes and on what they allow.

If the ballot initiative is passed in November, it will ultimately mean that the hospital district would be enabled to work towards the development and enhancement of healthcare services and facilities including but not limited to: recruitment and retention of medical professionals, new and improved equipment and eventual new services, possible out-reach clinics, assisted living and elderly care and more. It would also serve to handle the subsidization of necessary but not necessarily profitable services, indigent care and other services as need and relative feasibility arise.

That being said (I know it was a big bite) the community is being asked for feedback, ideas or opinions to submit to the Issue Steering Committee. KMHD is community hospital represented by an elected board of directors to serve you. We are truly a local entity whose aim is to provide as many services locally as possible for physicians to refer their patients. I see it as preparing for our future healthcare needs now. I also see it as taking care of our own. It seems obvious that we ask for your input as we do our best to put together the best plan possible. Then it’s up to you to decide in November. Mail your input to: KMHD, c/o Eric Murray P.O. Box 399, Kremmling, e-mail or call (970) 724-3165.

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