Those living in the Olney Hospital District are being asked to make sure the hospital and its resources stay around for many more years. Hospital officials said right now, the 25 cents per hundred cap established 30 years ago is worth about 15 cents.
Starting Monday, with early voting, residents could approve the hospital having the option, if it needed, to use the Texas max cap at 75 cents per hundred.
“I was diagnosed with lymphoma whenever I was nine at this facility,” Samantha Isbell, Olney Hamilton Hospital Chief Nursing Officer, said.
That’s one of the reasons why Isbell gave back and became a nurse and then Chief Nursing Officer at her hometown hospital. Realizing the importance of the hospital to the community is why she believes the tax cap increase is essential.
“I feel like the support is what we need from the community right now,” Isbell said.
“21 hospitals have closed and they have the same profile as ours,” Michael Huff, Olney Hamilton Hospital District CEO said. “They are free-standing, rural hospitals, subject to the same cuts, same regulations that everyone else [has]. We don’t want to be number 22,” Huff said.
Right now, Texas leads the nation closing those aforementioned 21 hospitals over the last fifteen years.
That comes as a result of Medicaid dollars being witheld, higher patient deductables and property valuation growing smaller. Huff said it’s time to take the next step and ask residents of the award winning hospital district to vote on increasing the tax cap to 75 cents per 100 valuation.
“We had our auditors look at seven hospitals that are similar size stand-alone rural hospitals.
Huff said they did better than most of the other hospitals in performance metrics with one exception.
“We were woefully deficient in support from tax dollars and the reason I say that is we do anywhere from four to six million in charity cases,” Huff said.
Tha charity provides needed care to those who can’t afford it. If voters approve the tax cap, Huff said an immediate tax increase wouldn’t be much.
“I would say that if we decided to raise taxes, it would be like two cents,” Huff said.
That money, approved by voters, could keep the hospital district thriving.
The homestead exemption allows the hospital to not bring increases to those 65 and older on fixed incomes. Though the hospital district serves Archer County, residents outside the district would not see an increase if approved.
Election day is May 4th.