Health Services District likely to return to ballots, though not in its current form
With the majority of Moffat County voters deciding to strike down a proposal to create a health services district in the region, many are asking what will happen to emergency services, which has long been an expensive service for Memorial Regional Health.
Interim CEO of MRH Jennifer Riley assured that EMS through the next year will be covered and that proponents of 6A and 6B are planning on coming back with a similar ask of voters, though it will most likely look different than this year’s measure.
“EMS is necessary, but expensive,” Riley said.
Groups that opposed the district had one main concern: they did not want Memorial Regional Hospital to have its hands on emergency services in the county. For residents in Craig, though, that will still be the case. At least, for now.
“The irony is there for sure,” Riley said. “The hospital has total control over EMS right now. (EMS is) a necessity, but changes that get made to it — the hospital has that control. We wanted to give it to another entity.”
On Tuesday, Moffat County voters decided to reject ballot measures 6A and 6B, which would have created a Health Services District that levied property taxes to fund emergency medical services in Moffat County. The district would have been run by a board of five Moffat County residents.
Riley said that it’s a common misconception that a large portion of the hospital is funded through tax dollars from county residents. MRH receives 3 mills every year from taxpayers, which Riley said brings in about $1 million to the hospital. When compared to the hospital’s $100 million it gets in operations, taxes don’t bring in that much. Riley said that the mill mainly covers the mortgage on the actual hospital building.
Hospital administrators have long been saying that EMS services lose about $600,000 in revenue each year, and that loss is not sustainable. In Dinosaur, residents rely on services from Utah, which could take up to 45 minutes. The HSD would have secured an ambulance to run in Dinosaur.
“The (MRH Board of Trustees) did make it clear earlier this year that running EMS is not a long term solution,” she said. “And other solutions need to be investigated.”
She added that it was unfortunate that misinformation about the measures was spread up until Election Day, but it is likely that a new task force will be formed in order to re-evaluate what compromises can be made to get more residents to approve the measure. Riley said that the taskforce, much like the task force that was created to form 6A and 6B, will include various EMS stakeholders, first responders, firefighters and others. She also said the process was likely to be “very public.”
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