The Bowie Memorial Hospital Board is moving forward once again on a proposal to establish a Bowie Health Taxing District. The same idea was shot down by Bowie voters back in 2011. Since that time, the hospital partnered with a management group headquartered in the metroplex and became a clinical partner with United Regional.
The hospital’s interim CEO said that still isn’t enough to sustain the hospital much longer, since it’s one of the few medical centers in the nation that runs without tax money. In fact, he said the facility is about 4 million dollars in the hole, and he’s not sure how much longer they’ll be able to keep the doors open without voter’s support.
Everyday people needing care walk into the Bowie Memorial Hospital; some of them can’t afford to pay, some choose not to. Either way, CEO Lynn Heller said it is costing the hospital. He said the facility writes off $300,000-$400,000 per month. Because of this, Heller said it’s nearly impossible to keep the hospital running.
“That’s just the way it is, in all aspects of all business,” Heller said. “People that pay, pay for the people that don’t.”
If the hospital district doesn’t pass in November, it will most likely have to close it’s doors in December, and that’s going to affect a lot more than just people having to drive a little ways out of town for medical care.
“It’s much bigger deal than just the hospital,” Heller said. “I’ve already had many citizens, people that were born and raised here, that have told me that if it doesn’t pass, we’re selling our houses and moving.”
“We would probably move,” Bowie Resident Mike Harper said. “We’re both older, and we have health issues… both of us, you know.”
Mike harper and his wife have a “Save the Hospital” sign in their front yard; they’re big supporters of the idea of the Bowie Health District.
“I voted it for it the last time and i’ll vote for it again. No hospital, no town,” Harper said. “I’m worried that it might fail, but I’m hoping the people that would be against it will just stay home.”
Heller says losing the hospital will have a huge impact on the Bowie economy, to the tune of about $15-20 million. And, once again, the taxing district and the facilities fate could be in the hands of voters.
The difference between this petition and the petition in 2011, is this one only applies to those living in Bowie ISD. Although Heller says he understands the frustrations of taxpayers when it comes to non-paying patients, someone has to take care of them, and if they don’t go to Bowie hospital, they’ll just go to a nearby town and affect the taxpayers there.
The proposed tax rate will be 18.5 cents per 100 dollars property evaluation, so if you have a $100,000 a year home, you’d pay another $185 in taxes a year.