Mountains Community Hospital will have a ballot measure in the March 3, 2020 election to make the current parcel tax permanent, thus eliminating the significant expense of holding an election every 4 years. In addition, the hospital is asking for an annual increase, tied to the CPI with a 3% cap, to ensure the hospital can keep pace with ever increasing healthcare costs. Please see the “Frequently Asked Questions” section below for more information.
Please come to a community meeting to learn more:
Thursday, January 23rd at 6 pm at Neo’s Pizza House in Running Springs
Wednesday, January 29th at 6 pm at The Grapevine in Lake Arrowhead
Frequently Asked Questions
Why put the tax in permanently?
Putting the tax in permanently will eliminate the need for an election every 4 years and save the hospital and the community $70,000 or more, every 4 years – money that can be spent on hospital improvements.
Why does the tax need to increase?
Our cost to provide essential healthcare services has increased by more than 56% in just the past 10 years, but the tax has not gone up – ever. The hospital is busier than it has ever been. Last year the hospital had 46,800 visits, more than ever before in its 68-year history. Approval of this ballot measure will ensure the hospital can continue to meet the needs of our community, today and in the years to come.
Is this a new fee?
No. Property owners in the hospital’s district have been paying a fee since 1989. The community put the current tax into place in 1989 to save the hospital from closure and it has not gone up in 30 years.
How much is the current tax again?
The current tax is $40 for each vacant lot; $80 for a lot with a home on it; and $200 for commercial properties.
Who pays the tax?
The annual tax is paid by property owners in the towns of Twin Peaks, Rimforest, Blue Jay, Lake Arrowhead, Crest Park, Skyforest, Cedar Glen, Running Springs, Arrowbear Lake and Green Valley Lake.
I’m a homeowner, how will the 3% cap affect the current tax?
Putting the 3% cap on taxes means the parcel tax will never go up by more than 3%. Assuming the CPI increases by 3% or more, the first year increase for a homeowner would be $2.40 – a small price indeed to keep our hospital and its many services on our mountain.
Won’t the tax become much higher in future years?
The tax will continue to increase each year, subject to the annual 3% cap. However, while the amount of the tax will increase, relative to the cost of other goods, it will remain stable. We all know that a dollar 30 years ago purchased much more than a dollar today. Similarly, in 30 years, a dollar will purchase much less than it does today. For example, an $80 dinner for two will cost almost $200 in 30 years, assuming a 3% annual increase.
What happens if the change in the CPI is less than 3%?
If the change in CPI is less than 3%, then the tax will only increase by whatever that percentage might be. For example, if the change in CPI in 2021 is 1%, the tax for a homeowner will only go up $0.80.
If Measure H passes, when will the tax start increasing?
The tax will begin to increase in 2021.
If the tax is permanent, how can I be sure the hospital is using the tax revenue responsibly?
Each year, the hospital undergoes a rigorous, independent financial audit, which is analyzed and approved by our publicly elected Board of Directors. The board meetings are open to the public and are a great way for community members to bring up any issues they may have. Board members, along with our Quality Department, address issues head-on and take every complaint seriously.
How will Mountains Community Hospital remain accountable to the community without an election to reaffirm the tax?
Mountains Community Hospital is accountable to the public, with or without an election to reaffirm the tax, and here are just a few examples of the accountability measures in place:
The hospital consistently meets and responds to demanding regulations imposed by regulatory bodies in the healthcare industry. The Joint Commission, an organization that accredits more than 21,000 healthcare organizations across the country, accredits only 27% of Critical Access Hospitals and we are very proud to be one of them. This shows MCH meets the highest standards of quality and safety.
The hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility consistently receives a 5-star rating, in all categories, by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Accountability exists on a personal level with our staff. The success of our hospital depends on patients and last year we had 46,800 patient visits, more than ever before in the 68-year history! This is a testament to our excellent patient care and tireless efforts to improve quality and patient safety. We believe that the bar is set even higher for us because we are caring for friends, family, and neighbors – people we might see out in the community later that day. We think the quality of care is what really sets us apart from other hospitals and we are all very proud to work here.
If, in the future, the community wants to reduce or eliminate the tax, is that possible?
Yes. As mentioned earlier, a publicly elected Board of Directors governs the hospital. The board members welcome feedback from the community and can decide to reduce or eliminate the tax at any time.
Why is the parcel tax critical to hospital operations?
Tax revenue is critical to hospital operations because each year we budget an operating deficit. This is because 75% of our patients are dependent on government programs like Medi-Cal and Medicare and these payors do not pay us for all of our costs. We truly depend on the parcel tax to help us cover operating expenses and we rely on donations to help us pay for new equipment and capital improvements.
If tax money covers operating expenses, then where do donations go?
The hospital has been very fortunate that the MCH Foundation has raised over $6MM since it formed in 1993. The Foundation’s goal is to provide for improvements beyond the resources of the hospital. A lot of this money has gone towards updating equipment and facility improvements, including our recent seismic strengthening project. The MCH Auxiliary also donates money for new equipment, as well as countless volunteer hours. These donations of time and money are a testament to the generosity of our community and are a vital part of the hospital’s success. However, donations cannot begin to offset the need for continued tax support.
What happens if Measure H does not pass?
We will have to continue holding elections every 4 years. Without the annual inflation adjustment, we will not be able to keep up with the rising costs of healthcare and this will eventually lead to a reduction in services and put Mountains Community Hospital at risk of closing.
How does the hospital benefit the community beyond providing healthcare services?
The hospital employs 250 people. The hospital also uses local businesses for many of its needs, helping fuel the economic engine of our community.
The hospital helps attract and retain doctors, medical specialists, pharmacists and other health providers.
New residents are attracted to the area because we have a hospital and it would not be feasible for many to live here without a hospital nearby.
Does the hospital now accept more insurance plans?
The hospital accepts most insurance plans. For a list of accepted health insurance plans, please visit www.mchcares.com/patients-visitors/billing-insurance/ Of course, even when an HMO has contracted with MCH, they may require you to use another hospital, or even refuse to cover certain services. But remember, in an emergency, you have the right to go to any hospital, and your HMO is required to pay for your emergency care. So, in an emergency do not hesitate to come to MCH.
If you are insured by Regal Medical Group, please know that the hospital is working towards a contract with Regal that will provide better service to you. The hospital is also investigating the possibility of accepting more HMOs through our Rural Health Clinics in Lake Arrowhead and Running Springs.
If your insurance will not allow you to use the hospital, please contact one of our Eligibility Specialists at (909) 336-3651 ext. 3555.
What does the future look like for MCH?
Over the next 10 years, the hospital has the following building projects and improvements to make:
Create more parking
Build a new Medical/Surgical wing
Modernize the Operating Suite
Build a new education center
Double the size of our Skilled Nursing Facility
Expand and move departments to improve patient experience and meet new regulations
We hope to begin construction on the elevated parking area this year. If you have any questions, please contact the Foundation at (909) 436-3263.