OMC details uses for $3.6M tax levy

About one-third of the $3.6 million Olympic Medical Center property tax levy approved by voters in August will pay for treating for the uninsured and underinsured, the board of directors was told at its Nov. 5 meeting.

A breakdown of the levy's uses was provided as part of the 2009 budget presentation.

Chief financial officer Julie Rukstad said the new property tax levy of 44 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation is projected to raise $3.6 million or about 2.9 percent of the hospital district's $124 million operating budget. The biggest portion of the levy, $1.2 million or 34 percent, is slated to pay for serving the uninsured and underinsured, including support for free clinics as well as financial assistance and charity care.

The 2009 budget includes $900,000, or about 28 percent of levy funds, for emergency room expenses such as medical equipment, emergency preparedness, emergency department expansion and trauma funds and education.

It also includes $325,000, or about 9 percent, for hospital expenses such as medical equipment, infrastructure and other costs such as a hospitalist program and staffing. A hospitalist is a physician who works exclusively in a hospital and does not maintain an outside practice.

Another $460,000, or about 13 percent of the levy, is slated for maternity expenses including services for new families and birth center equipment and operations.

The budget also lists $450,000, or 13 percent of levy funds, for physician recruitment and retention including expansion of hospitalist and nursing home coverage.

The hospital district's Wellness and Chronic Disease Management Program is slated to receive $160,000 or about 4 percent of the levy funds. The program includes nutrition counseling, diabetes counseling, cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and health promotion.

The hospital district's previous levy had been 11 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which raised $946,000 or about 0.7 percent of the district's operating budget.

Voters approved the levy increase with a 53.5 percent "yes" vote in the Aug. 19 primary election, so the owner of a $250,000 home who was paying $27.50 per year now pays $110.

It is the district's first levy increase in more than 60 years. The district's levy had one been of the lowest of any public hospital district in the state.

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