You know that Hospital District Somervell County VOTED DOWN? Vote coming BAAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKKSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


You know that Hospital District Somervell County VOTED DOWN? Vote coming BAAAAAAACCCCCCKKKKKKK

16 November 2012 at 9:40:03 AM

Like a leftover in the fridge that you can't quite identify but think it might be that awful meal experiment you served last month, a vote about creating a hospital district in Somervell County is returning, date yet to be determined. Let's do a short review.

The FIRST time, apparently Glen Rose Medical Center, which was then a private entity which leased the building and equipment for One Dollar a YEAR from Somervell County, arranged to have the election on... VALENTINE'S DAY. Which was a Saturday. There's no way that that was an accident. I'm sure the hope was that by having it on a day that might guarantee low turnout, the district would naturally pass. In fact, we have heard rumours NOW that the attorney helping out the hospital board is recommending that they arrange the election on a busy day to try to drive down participation.

When Mr Gary Marks, who was then CEO of Glen Rose Medical Foundation, was orignally pushing this, it was with the hope, I'm sure, that he would not have to pay back that 14.4 million dollar certificate of obligation (plus interest) that GRMF was on the hook for. And WHAT for? Remember that Marks wanted to increase the size of the hospital and tried to get a government grant to do ti. The govt agency in charge turned him down because there are already THREE hospitals in the area and GRMC didn't meet the criteria. So Marks then went to US Rep Chet Edwards for an earmark, which we all know does an end run against the process anyone else has to go through. In other words, you or I attempting to get a grant would have to apply, and then follow the RULES governing that grant. But when GRMC didn't meet that criteria, Edwards just carved out some money to give to him directly. Now, that's a little murky to me, did the money get given to SOMERVELL COUNTY or to GRMF? If GRMF then why was an earmark of taxpayer money going to a private entity? Then it turned out that Edwards was not able to get the full amount of the earmark, but only half. Somervell County decided to go to a lender and get money to finance the construction of the hospital, which was ALREADY GOING ON. To do that, the county had to be a guarantor of the funds being paid back, but also GRMF signed a contract that they would be paying back that money TO the county. At the point of the county approving this, since TAXPAYER MONEY was going to go to a PRIVATE entity, there was supposed to be a public hearing FIRST, as dictated by no other than the IRS, so that we, the citizens in Somervell County, could decide IF we wanted to be on the hook for 14.4 million bucks. But good ole Mike Ford, who was then a commissioner, decided to go ahead, over the weak objection of Judge Maynard, to approve the money WITHOUT THE LEGALLY REQUIRED HEARING FIRST and called a vote, which passed. Now, how was GRMF going to get all that construction done but not have to pay back the money? Why, what they did was arrange to try to create a HOSPITAL district, at which point GRMF would be dissolved and the taxpayer would be on the hook for running that hospital. GRMF KNEW they weren't making enough money to do this. When the hospital district failed, the county took back the hospital but ran it under a board with APPOINTED, not elected members, GRMF was dissolved as an entity but Gary Marks stayed on. WHEN GRMC didn't make enough money to run, in other words, losing money, the county agreed that they would make up the cost of the underages. Essentially, GRMC would show up at commissioner's court, hat in hand, to ask for the extra money. That money coming from taxpayers also included making up doctor's salaries in case they weren't making enough money month to month.

For me, about 2 years ago I got totally disgusted watching all the shenanigans, plus had a major unrelated project I've been heads down into for the last 2 years, so I only intermittently looked up to see if things were changing. At some point, it appears that Mr Marks was put on as a consultant (how much is he being paid for that? ) and most recently for some reason the nursing home is being leased out with monies going to (the county?the board? what's in THAT contract?)

Apparently, though, that ole hospital district is NOT done.As we recall from when we last looked at this, a hospital district is paid for by the taxpayers of ONE county but can include servicing areas outside the county. When GRMF was a private entity, they signed a contract, for example, with Pecan Plantation to provide doctors, equipment, etc to them, but when GRMF ceased to be, there was NO NEW CONTRACT CREATED (and really, cash cow or not, shouldn't it be up to the taxpayer to decide if they WANT to subsidize a clinic in another county?) and yet the county, with the new board, continued to provide services to PP, Marks also had his eye on sending doctors and equipment down to Meridian Manor, which is in Bosque County and even made up a bogus private entity under that name (entity did not exist at the SOS level). He could only do this IF GRMC was part of a hospital district, which made it even more urgent to get it passed. In other words, GRMC, on its own, is operating at a loss, and unless they can tap entities outside the county to bring in money, they will, apparently, fail.

That brings us pretty much up to now. There is apparently a large, bloated, whimsically named *steering* committee whose job it is, not to consider the merits of GRMC, but to sell the public here on the hospital district. Not everyone on the steering committee even LIVE in Somervell County and it seems possible that at least some were picked for their *influence* ON the community, as opposed to some true discussion of the issues. I believe based on the last time that we should be prepared for some big PR push, perhaps by intimate little house parties where people are plied with food in order to soften them up for this, AND obscure dates for hearings and elections. That is, I assume there would need to be at least one public hearing for a hospital district but definitely it will go back for an election.

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1 - humanbeing   17 Nov 2012 @ 7:24:57 PM 

There is nothing shameful in GRMC making another appeal to voters to form a hospital district in our county. Many counties in Texas have voted to form hospital districts because the survival of any health provider these days is a very iffy proposition due to so many uninsured patients. It's a matter of values and opinion and will be decided by the electorate.

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2 - salon   18 Nov 2012 @ 10:45:33 AM 

Didn't say that GRMC making another appeal was *shameful*, but do think it's probably not something Somervell County wants. Remember how the last one was arranged for the election day to be VALENTINE'S DAY? That is gaming the system, to try to find the date that will be least noticeable for someone to either remember to vote or be able to vote. For example, IF the election this time was going to be deliberately on a day when another holiday occurs, OR on one of the busiest days of the year for something else, THAT is gaming the system.

On hospital districts.That means property and possibly sales taxes will go up and at the will of an elected board.

Hospital Districts
A hospital district must be approved by the voters, and each district can determine eligibility standards and services to be provided. The hospital district has the authority to impose property taxes annually in an amount not to exceed the limit approved by voters, and in no event in excess of 75 cents on each $100 valuation of all taxable property in the district. The district may also chose to levy a sales tax.

Some hospital districts do not levy taxes, but 132 districts reported nearly $730 million in property taxes for fiscal 1998. Eight Texas hospital districts levied more than $17 million in sales taxes in fiscal 1998.

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