Measure I Fails - What Next?

As reported today in The Californian, Measure I, the $485 million bond initiative for Valley Health System is on the brink of defeat. A Va...

As reported today in The Californian, Measure I, the $485 million bond initiative for Valley Health System is on the brink of defeat. A Valley Health System board member was quoted in the article as conceding defeat.

But the question I have now is "Where do we go from here?"

That question was also asked in the article...
William Cherry, a Valley Health System director, recently said officials hadn't considered what they'd do if the bond failed. It's possible, he said, that the district could continue with measured growth, but more likely, the hospitals will have to cut services ---- possibly emergency room care, which is the most expensive division in medical centers.
I got together with Eric Madrid, a writer here on Menifee 24/7, as well as a medical doctor with a practice in Temecula as a family physician, to discuss some of the issues surrounding Menifee Valley Medical Center, and what should be done. Below is a diatribe we put together...

Steve: Measure I isn't the first bond measure that Valley Health System put before us. Lately it seems they put bond measures on the ballot every year or two. The problem I see isn't that it doesn't have state-of-the-art facilities, but that we receive bad service from its staff, whether it's no service, rude service, or feeling like no one cares. When you have a medical problem, all you want is prompt attention and someone who cares. How is another tax hike going to force the staff to be more friendly and attentive?

Eric: In my opinon, Valley Health may be in trouble and are looking for community bailout. Currently, many Menifee Valley residents go to Southwest Healthcare's hospitals. These include Rancho Springs and Inland Valley. Both of these hospitals are profitable and from what I know, none are asking for money. Also, it has been reported recently in the paper that a new hospital, backed by community physicians, is being planned for the Menifee Valley area. This hospital will be off Antelope road, between Scott and Clinton Keith. It is my opinion that Valley Health is feeling some pressure of potential competition and as a result is asking for tax payers to help.

Steve: I think one reason why this measure failed is because the amount of money involved was enormous, while voters living in the health district are spread across a wide area. It wasn't just $485 million we were talking about, but nearly double that when you factor in the interest payments on the bonds. That's nearly $1 BILLION! Why should residents of Menifee pay even more taxes to fund hospital renovations in Hemet and Moreno Valley? The same is true for Moreno Valley residents being asked to pay for renovations in Menifee.

Eric: Hemet Valley, Menifee Valley, and Moreno Valley hospitals have 519 beds between them. Menifee Valley Hospital only 84 beds. The price tag they are asking for is almost $1 million per hospital bed. If you consider the higher amount of $1 billion, we are pushing $2 million per bed! This is an amazingly ridiculous amount. Furthermore, the fact that Menifee has newer and more expensive homes than Hemet and Moreno Valley makes me think that we are going to be paying a higher share of the taxes than those in Hemet and Moreno Valley, where 435 or the 519 hospital beds are located.

Steve: $485 million is an amazing price. If the hospital is that much in the red, it is basically bankrupt. From what I understand, hospitals the size of Rancho Springs and Inland Valley cost less than $150 million to build in total.

Eric: Correct!. I think this bond is more of a bailout if anything.

Steve: Even though Measure I has failed, I don't think families in Menifee are worrying. Just about every family I know of here goes to Inland Valley or Rancho Springs, because the service is so much better. If families are comfortable with those two hospitals, why can't we instead have a bond measure to pay for traffic lights and road improvements?

Eric: Th