Hospital directors held tax rate hearing, updated on projects

By Becky Brewster

The Culberson County Hospital District met in Regular Session on September 9, 2020. The Board conducted a public hearing on the proposed tax rate increase for 2020. The Board proposes to adopt the Voter Approval Tax Rate (formerly Rollback Rate) of $0.119229 with $0.020339/$100 being allocated for debt service. This rate is still below the 2019 rate of $0.120041. The Board also conducted a public hearing for the FY 2020-2021 Budgets.

Judy Blazek, Project Manager, updated the Board on the parking lot/façade improvements project. Blazek noted that the drawings for the canopy had finally been completed and approved. Fabrication of the canopy is underway and is anticipated to take 8-12 weeks to complete. She reported that the surveyors have been to the site to lay out the footers and confirm building coordinates, so construction is anticipated to pick up again soon.

Blazek reported that the application and drawings for the helipad had been submitted to the FAA on August 27. Once the application is approved, the District can go forward with the project.

Hospital Administrator Rick Gray briefed the Board on the Culberson Hospital’s response to the COVID-19, noting that there are 16 active cases at this time. Gray also reported that Preferred has ordered a new machine to conduct the COVID-19 tests in-house with expected delivery in the fall. However, there is an anticipated delay in the availability of the reagents. He reported that flu shots will be starting soon with consideration being given to setting up a day for a drive-through administration of the injections.

Jared Chanski, Preferred EVP, reported that the open enrollment for Medicare Advantage will begin in October. Preferred will be launching an educational campaign to attempt to stem the tide of medicare advantage participants in the community. The national rate of medicare advantage participants is approximately 25%. With the restrictions due to COVID-19, Preferred will have to find other means to educate the community through advertising and digital media. He noted that once a person has to access healthcare services through medicare advantage policies, they encounter the pitfalls of regular insurance such as co-pays, denials, treatment methods questioned and denied, and out-of-network providers not covered.

In other business, the Culberson County Hospital District:

Approved the consent agenda.

Discussed the feasibility of refinancing the District’s bonds.

Approved budget amendments.

Approved a tax resale bid as submitted by the Appraisal District.