COHC offers second opinion | Guest Column

The “Vote no on public hospital district” published recently are inaccurate, stating that it:

Funds private business

Coalition for Orcas Health Care (COHC) response: Actually, neither clinic to be supported is a private, for-profit business. OFHC is a non-profit owned by a board of responsive community members. The UW Clinic is a publicly owned entity.

Raises property taxes 43 percent

COHC: Actual increase above 2018 tax levels due to the PHD could be 9.5 percent when figured at the highest rate. See:

Makes housing less affordable

COHC: At the highest rate (75 cents), tax on a $475,000 home would be a dollar a day. At 60 cents, the cost would be $285 annually. Landlords might deduct that as a business expense. It could be offset by savings from residents avoiding lost wages, lost school days and ferry travel for every primary care doctor’s visit, including student sports physicals, etc.

May cause families to leave

COHC: Families truly might leave if the PHD is not approved and both clinics close. Young families and elders would not have access to medical care on Orcas (especially urgent and after-hours care) when they need it.

Is not actually defined in any way, shape or form

COHC: PHDs are clearly defined by Washington law RCW 70.44. It is accurate that, by law, elected commissioners define (a) the levy rate, (b) who receives financial assistance for what services and (c) how much they will receive.

Can’t compete with the best EMTs money can buy

COHC: At the March 29 OICF Providers’ Roundtable, Fire Cheif Scott Williams stated that our EMTs cannot fill the gap in health services without a PHD to support continued primary care. Speakers emphasized that the purpose of EMS is not to provide or make up for the lack of primary care (family medicine).

Is only five minutes to hospitals by air

COHC: Although flight time may be five minutes, our health professionals stated on March 29 that air transport is only for emergencies (potential loss of life, limb or sight). Misuse places patients and crew at unnecessary risk – especially in inclement flying weather.

Doesn’t accept 80 percent of Orcas residents insurance

COHC: The PHD is not the UW clinic. The UW clinic accepts Kaiser insurance and will refer to a variety of specialists (both in and outside the UW system) at the patient’s request. OFHC accepts a variety of insurance.

Keeps unpopular doctors on Orcas

COHC: In fact, PHD Commissioner candidates have repeatedly committed to including satisfaction surveys and other measures of patient satisfaction as part of future agreements to fund our clinics. Additionally, continued funding could depend on how the clinics score based on customer service, quality of care and affordable cost.

May evolve into a monopoly for health care

COHC: Commissioner candidates support providing assistance to both UW and OFHC Clinics. Both clinics are committed to improving coordination and collaboration. There is no interest in creating a monopoly on health care.

Thank you for considering this perspective.