|Ocala, FL -
October 14, 2012|
The last item on the Nov. 6 general election ballot is the property tax-increasing bond issue for Munroe. You may have received a political ad asking you to vote “Yes” for the bonds. Here are eight things proponents of the bond issue are not telling you:
- Three hospital systems have made comprehensive proposals to operate the hospital without increasing your taxes while paying off $100 million in existing bonds.
- All three hospital systems have agreed to provide the same level of indigent care that Munroe currently provides. In fact, all three currently provide greater indigent care than Munroe provides.
- All three hospital systems have agreed to continue to provide obstetrical services so that babies will continue to be born at Munroe throughout the term of the lease.
- Two of the proposals agree to immediately invest $150 million in the Master Facility Plan that Munroe's directors and trustees agree is necessary to ensure the future existence of the hospital. One group has agreed to a Master Facility Expansion plan, but has not committed to the $150 million for it. MRMC will not have the ability to do a Master Facility Expansion plan even after taxing Marion County residents $65 million.
- All three hospital systems are committed to quality health care. Community Health Systems has, on average, higher JAHCO ratings at its hospitals than does Munroe. Duke LifePoint Healthcare has the eighth-ranked hospital in the nation. Health Management Associates is proposing an affiliation with Shands.
- All three hospital systems have committed to pay from $150 million to $275 million in addition to the Master Facility Expansion Plan and annual capital improvement requirements. This would enable the trustees to invest millions of dollars annually into Heart of Florida to expand indigent health care to all of Marion County and not just provide indigent care at the emergency room.
- The proposed bond will pay for three years of annual capital maintenance at Munroe while taxing residents for five or six years to pay for it.This is not a sale of the hospital, but a lease. The Marion County Hospital District will still own the hospital.
Despite all the fear tactics you may see in the political advertisements for bonds, they are not telling you the truth. While it is true MRMC has been a great tenant, and MRMC has made the hospital a great hospital, as a single-site hospital, MRMC is not equipped to be financially viable in today's evolving hospital environment.
Munroe is so great today because of MRMC's hard work. Because of that hard work, we are fortunate as a community to have some of the largest and best-recognized names in the health care industry interested in leasing our hospital and becoming part of our community.
We do not have to tax our residents in order to have great quality health care for all our residents. The opportunity we have today should not be put off to see if MRMC is able to be financially viable three years from now, when the revenue from the bonds is exhausted while the residents still have two to three years of taxes to pay for health care. We can have a financially viable hospital today, and we don't have to tax residents $65 million on the chance that MRMC will still not be financially viable three years from now. Vote “No” for bonds for Munroe.
Joseph Hanratty is an Ocala lawyer and member of the Marion County Hospital District Board of Trustees, which owns Munroe Regional Medical Center.