Hospitals, myths and mysteries

Published 11:40 am Thursday, June 29, 2017

Editorial by Bobby Tingle

As of this writing there are no known petitions, seeking signatures of Orange County voters, with the goal of establishing a hospital district somewhere in Orange County. Several attempts have been made, but none, so far, have succeeded.

A close relative was recently diagnosed with a mass on his kidney, which was very likely malignant. The recommended therapy was removal of the kidney. His other kidney was fine. Fortunately, God blessed us with two kidneys and the option of getting by with one. He can no longer play football, but he is well passed that stage in his life. He was scheduled for surgery soon after the diagnosis. On the appointed Wednesday, his family members and a team of medical professionals assembled to remove the tainted organ.

It is a mystery to me how this medical team was able to accomplish their goal. As it was described to me, they made a small incision, inserted cameras on probes, laser technology, a shrink-wrap type bag and robots. The bag was placed around the infected organ, the organ detached, the wounds sealed, and the kidney was removed through the small incision in its compact container.

Thursday night, he went home expecting to return to work two weeks later.

Medical technology has advanced to a mysterious level. When my grandmother had a similar surgery, a few years ago, the process was more difficult to accomplish and recover from. She recovered fine; she also was not allowed to play football.

The myth of medical technology is the delivery.

Our national leaders are deliberating now to replace, correct, improve or simply change the Affordable Care Act. The bottom line in all the hype and hyperbole is, the bottom line. How do you pay for it?

I did a bit of research on establishing a hospital district. My intent was to skim over the details of the law titled, ‘Hospital Districts Created By Voter Approval’ established by the Legislature of the State of Texas, to determine how to proceed with the process.

I got hung up on the funding mechanism.

Basically, a hospital district is a taxing entity. A hospital district, as specified by the statute, is required to provide indigent care. A patient residing in the district must be supplied care and treatment without charge when the patient or guardian is unable to pay for the necessary care.

Federal and State funds become available to cover the cost of providing services to those unable to pay, but those programs do not cover the entire costs. So the hospital district, if established, must fund the difference.

Two funding questions must be specifically answered in the petition calling for an election of voters to approve a hospital district. Will the district be allowed to impose a property tax and at what maximum rate? Will the district be allowed to impose a sales tax and at what maximum rate? Optionally, the district can include the possibility of issuing bonds to finance establishment of the hospital facility.

The myth, as you can see, is free health care.

I suspect there are very few who would say we do not need a hospital in Orange County. But the bottom line has to be printed in black ink. Citizens within the district will likely have to pay by way of an increase is property tax or sale tax to keep the district in black ink.

We need a hospital in Orange County. Let’s get past the myths and mysteries and do this!


Bobby Tingle is the publisher of The Orange Leader. You can reach him at