Monterey County Voters Reject Measure To Increase Sales Tax To Fund Natividad Medical Center
Monterey County voters on Tuesday rejected Measure Q, which would have increased the county sales tax by a half-cent to fund Salinas-based Natividad Medical Center, the Monterey County Herald reports (Livernois/Segal, Monterey County Herald, 12/3). The measure would have raised as much as $25 million per year for the county-owned hospital, which has faced a budget deficit for the past year (California Healthline, 11/13). About 61% of registered voters voted in favor of the measure, short of the two-thirds majority required for passage; about 6,000 votes remain uncounted, but they will not likely change the final result, according to Monterey County Elections officials. The measure failed to pass despite support from county officials, physicians and labor groups (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 12/4). Supporters, such as the Monterey County Medical Society and the Community Hospital of Monterey Peninsula, raised $500,000 to fund a campaign to warn that failure to pass the measure would lead to reduced access to health care in the area. Opponents sponsored signs, radio advertisements and other campaigns against the measure because they said that the financial problems of the hospital resulted from "decades of mismanagement," according to the Herald. Chuck Jervis, Natividad interim executive officer, said that he will introduce a finance proposal on Friday at a meeting of the hospital board of trustees. Monterey County Supervisor Lou Calcagno did not specify other county proposal to address financial problems at the hospital but said that the Board of Supervisors will likely consider the issue next week (Monterey County Herald, 12/3).
The results of the vote on Measure Q have prompted "some trepidation" from supporters of a similar measure on the March 2004 ballot in Alameda County, according to the Tribune (Oakland Tribune, 12/4). The Alameda County measure would increase the county sales tax rate from 8.25% to 8.75% to raise about $90 million per year for health care (California Healthline, 11/24). The Alameda County Medical Center, which includes Highland and Fairmont hospitals and the John George Psychiatric facility, would receive 75% of the additional revenue; other hospital emergency departments that serve low-income and uninsured patients and community-based clinics would receive the remainder of the additional revenue. The medical center has an estimated $86 million budget deficit that could force a reduction in services without additional funds (Oakland Tribune, 12/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.