The following editorial was submitted to www.chickashanow.com
Grady Memorial Hospital: Is it worth your time and effort?
How many times have you been to GMH in the last year? For my family and myself, I can personally count on one hand how many times within the last year we have received care at GMH. With that being said, how many of you have checked with your insurance to see if GMH and its affiliates are covered under your insurance policy? I personally hadn't thought much about it myself, until the end of December when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma cancelled their Blue Choice policies. My family was forced to look into a new policy and try to figure out which one would be best for us. We chose to go with the Blue Preferred plan since it was more in depth coverage than the Blue Advantage plan. Both of these plans are the only options that individual policy owners have to choose from with BCBS.
Everyone keeps talking about how we need the hospital and that they want the citizens of Grady County to fund the reconstruction of the Operating Rooms and also the Radiology Department. I was informed recently when I called BCBS that with the Blue Preferred plan we had chosen for my family, along with the Blue Advantage plan, citizens who had these policies would have to pay out-of-network costs to utilize GMH and their affiliates. How would you, as a citizen, like to pay this 1/4th cent sales tax for a hospital that you would have to pay extra to use in an emergency? Most citizens don't have that kind of extra money lying around. I know that I don't! If you did go to GMH, the BCBS Blue Preferred and Blue Advantage members would have only 20% of their whole bill covered compared to going somewhere else in the surrounding area that is in contract negotiations with BCBS and have 80% of their bill covered. That is a lot of difference to think about! I feel as if this whole tax vote is a pressured vote because there were many other options that could have been explored to fund the hospital, yet GMH wants the tax payers to fund something that some of the citizens won't be able to access unless they are willing to pay the huge out-of-network price difference.
I want you to really sit down and think about this tax. It is a 14 million dollar expense to begin with, which would roughly cost $40 million with interest. It is $.25 of every $100 you spend in the county. The mortgage on the hospital would be 14 million for 20 years at a fixed 3.75% interest rate. A tax was passed in 2014 that was written the exact same way and was used to redo the Grady County Fairgrounds. The Grady county Tea Party was kind enough to gather the numbers from the County Clerk's office as to how much money was collected last year from the fairgrounds tax. The numbers were ran and if Grady County's revenue continues to slowly increase like it has over the last 10 years the GMH tax will become the biggest slush fund. The hospital did not allow for the estimated economy growth in the county when this tax was written. The county revenue as a whole has increased 10% in the last 10 years. Take that number and figure in 20 years with this tax. That is leaving GMH with an extra $121 million on the high end of the spectrum. That is a lot of extra money! Spellman was quoted at the Tea party debate Thursday night saying that if the tax did pass that he would use the extra money for "capital expenditures". What does "capital expenditures" have to do with a tax that is currently being promoted to fix the hospital?
The next thing with this tax that I don't understand is why Rush Springs EMS and Tuttle EMS were included when they are both being funded by an Ad Valorem that has a current balance of $600,000. Also, the City of Rush Springs passed a city tax to help fund their personal EMS. I am all for helping the EMS but I personally feel that they were only included in this tax to only help sway votes in support of the tax.
This whole tax has been absolutely nothing but smoke and mirrors from the Hospital because they are not wanting to provide you, as citizens, with the proper information to make an informed vote. The Hospital could have easily applied for the USDA rural loans and they failed to do so because they probably understood the fact that they would only receive the money needed to fix the problem and not the extra that this slush fund tax would create. If you currently have an individual policy with BCBS and are not sure what policy your covered under please get in contact with your insurance provider or call BCBS directly and educate yourself to see if you would have to pay the out-of-network costs to use GMH or not.
So let me leave you with one final thought. Is it really worth your time to pass a tax that most people won't be able to benefit from due to GMH not being in contract with BCBS individual plans and also is it worth your hard earned tax money? It isn't to me!
An educated and concerned citizen,