I am writing this letter in regard to Kearny County Hospital's mill levy request. In several of the articles that have been published in previous papers, KCH has continued to cite reimbursements from insurance companies and bad debt as being the main reasons they need this money. What I think people need to realize is that these reimbursement rates are not unique to KCH. All medical professionals/facilities, whether public or private, deal with this same issue. What they also don't tell you is that what they charge for an office visit or testing changes depending on whether you have insurance or not and what type of insurance you have. What this means is that two people could go to the doctor on the same day, have the exact same tests performed and their bills would probably not be the same. This fluctuation in charges reflects what the actual cost of each test is and what they know their contract reimbursement will be.
One of the other points that was made in a previous letter to the editor, published in the Lakin Independent, talked about paying for services that we hope we will never need, such as police, fire and emergency medical services. While I understand the point made, I believe that we all expect these entities to be as financially responsible as possible with the tax money they are given. I do not believe that KCH should be held to any lower standard than all other public agencies. The taxpayers of Kearny County have spent more than $23 million (bonds, appropriations and building maintenance) in the last 10 years supporting them. I think that this, alone, proves that we understand the importance of having medical facilities in our community, but at some point everyone has to realize that business as usual is not the answer.
Last year, KCH requested an appropriation of $1,595,389 or 5.9 mills. After a petition was passed to require a vote, the measure failed in November. A tax was levied in the amount of $957,885 or 3.544 mills, based on the previous year's levy. After this vote, I hoped that the hospital would take a step back and re-evaluate the way they are doing business. I see no evidence of this happening. All I have seen is an entity that continues to spend, spend, spend and hire, hire, hire and now they are back, less than eight months later, requesting $1,849,152 (6.796 mills) — an increase of $891,267. In these economic times, we must ask ourselves, can we really afford this?
Regardless of which side of this issue you are on, the one thing that we can agree on is that it is important to let your voice be heard. I encourage you to exercise your right as a citizen of Kearny County to do just that and vote on July 28.