The Cedar County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees recently decided to seek an increase in the tax levy for the hospital during the upcoming April 2nd election. I am taking this opportunity to encourage all Cedar County voters to give serious consideration to supporting this increase.

First, lets talk about what Cedar County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) means to the community. CCMH is designated a critical access hospital. This means, in part, that the rural hospital has 25 beds or less and operates 24/7 emergency services. CCMH has physicians on site 24/7,and most are certified in emergency medicine. CCMH offers lab and radiology services, specialty clinics, rehabilitation services (PT, OT, speech and indoor therapy pool) and much more. CCMH also operates the Medical Mall in El Dorado Springs and the Cedar County Health Complex in Stockton. The Medical Mall houses a rural health clinic with physician and nurse practitioner services, county health, in-home services and cardiac rehab. The Health Complex offers county health services two days per week and Exercise Center services (a wide variety of exercise equipment and classes) six days a week, as well as rehabilitation services by appointment. In addition, Cedar County Memorial Hospital is the second largest employer in Cedar County, with 130 employees and several contracted positions! Its annual payroll of $3,290,000.00 goes right back into the local economy.

Cedar County Memorial Hospital opened in 1960 and it’s original tax levy was established at 0.2000 per $100 of annual assessed valuation in 1961. This is the first time in the intervening 58 years that the voters have been asked to increase the levy. Due to taxing limits imposed by the 1980 Hancock Amendment, the Hospital’s current levy is 0.1528 per $100 of annual assessed valuation. If approved, the levy proposition would raise the current levy ceiling from 0.1528 to 0.6112. This increase would generate approximately $795,000 in additional revenue.

And why do we need this levy increase? While other counties have separate levies to support their hospital and health department, Cedar County does not. In the fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, 2019, CCMH lost approximately $1.5 million. This loss is due to many factors, including decreasing patient volumes, changes in reimbursement, and increasing technology requirements. We have experienced diminished Emergency Room volume since the change in ambulance service providers a few years ago. Fewer ER visits mean decreased utilization across all departments. And implementation of a new Electronic Health Record, a requirement of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, cost the hospital approximately $2,415,600 in FY2018-19. The hospital will continue to face technology, facility and operational funding needs. This increase in tax revenue will be used to assure a reliable funding stream to help close the current funding gap.

Supporting the increase in the tax levy, as well as utilizing CCMH for your health care and that of your family, will go a long way toward sustaining this vital resource for our communities. Please vote “yes” on April 2nd.

Carla Griffin

Vice President, Cedar County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees