Voters in Northern Sonoma County Approve Parcel Tax to Provide Funding for Healdsburg Hospital
Residents in northern Sonoma County voted Tuesday by an 84%-16% margin to approve an $85 annual parcel tax that will provide funding for medical services at Healdsburg General Hospital, the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports. The tax, which easily garnered more than the two-thirds majority needed for approval, will be levied on every property owner in the area and is expected to raise $1.9 million each year (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 11/7). Voters also approved a measure that will create a public hospital district to run the facility. With Tuesday's vote, Sonoma County now contains the only two public health districts to be created in the state over the last 20 years (Rose, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 11/8). Faced with a $2 million budget deficit earlier this year, the hospital eliminated its maternity and intensive care units, cut staff and reduced the number of beds from 49 to 15. Hospital officials said they planned to close the facility if voters rejected the parcel tax and the creation of a public hospital district. Supporters of the parcel tax said that keeping the hospital open was important because it is Healdsburg's second-largest employer. In addition, supporters said that having the hospital's emergency room available was "preferable" to traveling to Santa Rosa for treatment. Opponents, however, said the tax will not resolve the facility's financial problems because it fails to address "basic" problems facing hospitals, including "inadequate" reimbursements, technology costs and costs associated with treating the increasing number of uninsured patients (Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 11/7).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.