Hospital District Commission Q&A


Position 3: Miles Longenbaugh (unopposed)

Ocean Shores resident Miles Longenbaugh is a financial adviser with Edward Jones Investments in Ocean Shores. He has eight years of experience in the financial field — six years in financial accounting and two years in wealth management. Longenbaugh said he hopes his financial backfround will baspecially helpful regarding budgetary matters as well as dealing the with the potential issue of restructuring the current debt from private to public.

Some Grays Harbor citizens have argued that parts of the county — such as Ocean Shores — are under-served by Grays Harbor Community Hospital. Do you see that as a problem? How would you fix that issue?

I understand where people could be coming from that would argue parts of the county like Ocean Shores are being under-served by GHCH. I see two possible solutions to that issue. One is to not approve the currently proposed public hospital taxing district and then petition our county commissioners to propose another hospital district that starts out smaller, say just Aberdeen and Hoquiam for example. This would provide an impetus to the hospital to provide additional services to the North Beach area prior to them being annexed into the district. The second way to fix this issue is to actually provide additional services to the North Beach area, possibly through mobile services along the coast or by having doctors come out on a rotational basis to the existing family clinics.

Will becoming a public hospital district do enough to stabilize the hospital’s finances? Does more need to be done?

Becoming a public hospital district will provide temporary relief for the hospital’s financial woes, but much more will need to be done in the long-run to stabilize their finances. I say this for three reasons. Firstly, there is a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 that comes into effect beginning in 2017 which states that the Federal government will begin to reduce the amount of Medicaid reimbursement that they provide to the states for newly eligible Medicaid patients and that by 2020 they will be reimbursing the states 90 percenet, instead of the current 100%. Since the primary reason for becoming a public hospital is to receive additional Medicaid funding, this provision of the ACA negates, to an extent, the very reason for becoming public. Secondly, the Senate has failed 17 times since 2003 to pass a permanent fix to the inevitable decrease in payment rates that physicians and hospitals who accept Medicare patients receive. When the Senate agrees on a permanent resolution, it could result in cuts as large as 24 percent to physicians and hospitals who accept Medicare patients. Since Grays Harbor Community Hospital relies on Medicare for roughly 46percent of their revenue, this would have a huge impact. Thirdly, the hospital has a profit margin of less than one percent, a debt to equity ratio of close to 60 percent and nearly $35 million in long-term debt. These things won’t go away by becoming a public hospital and therefore much more will need to be done to stabilize the hospital financially.

Many Grays Harbor citizens believe that there is a shortage of healthcare providers in the community. As a commissioner, how would you change the situation?

I would agree with others that there is a shortage of healthcare providers in the county, but as a commissioner I don’t know how much, if any, sway I would have in adding more providers to the county.

Armando Juarez and Ryan Farrer’s names also appear on the ballot. Neither candidate returned his questionnaire to The Daily World. Juarez is running unopposed for the Position 2 seat, and Farrer is running unopposed for the At Large Position 2 seat.

 

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