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North Lincoln Health District will try to build a hospital without going to the voters for a tax hike

North Lincoln Hospital A concerted move to replace it with a new one.

North Lincoln Hospital
A concerted move to replace it with a new one.

South Lincoln County voters recently passed a $57 million dollar property tax increase to build a new, highly upgraded hospital for Samaritan Health Services, based in Corvallis, to operate. It’s what most rural hospitals do in order to entice big medical corporations to come in and provide local medical care instead of making everyone drive a long way to a more populated area which offers high echelon medical care.

Well, that’s not how Lincoln County’s OTHER hospital district is going about getting a new hospital. The Lincoln City area’s North Lincoln Health District, Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Health Services are going to try to come up with a financial arrangement that will do the same thing without the big local tax increase.

Over the weekend, those three entities signed a memorandum of understanding that vows that everyone will find a way to do it without tapping the taxpayers on the shoulder for any more than they’re already paying. The key, it seems, is for the health district to turn over some or all their assets to Samaritan Health Services – the land – the buildings and other assets the district holds or can get their hands on.

Both the Chairman of the Health District and the Chief Executive Officer of Samaritan Health Services signed the memorandum. In addition to agreeing that the north county needs a better designed and earthquake resistant medical center, they’ve agreed to work out the transfer of assets to Samaritan Health sufficiently for THEM to build the new hospital, rather than the taxpayers doing it as occurred in the Newport area.

The new hospital will have the same number of beds but with a whole new medical equipment infrastructure and no doubt close-in doctors’ offices and specialty labs as usually occurs. The new hospital would rise in medical stature from being simply a rural medical facility to what is called a Critical Access Hospital. And the health district would like it build and operational within three years.

A lot rests, of course, on what kind of income Samaritan Health Services would need to come into the new hospital to not only pay the bills, but also garner a profit for the Samaritan Health Services system. And no small amount of that depends on future federal Medicare and Medicaid re-imbursement rates, which these days, are far from being secure – at least politically. Conservative political forces in Washington D.C. want to slash both, along with suggesting a highly controversial method of managing Social Security.

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