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Ventura County Perspective | SECOND OPINION

Misleading Spin Put on Measure O

Community Memorial Hospital wants voters to believe that it provides huge amounts of care to the poor and uninsured.

November 05, 2000|NEAL ANDREWS | Neal Andrews of Ventura is a health care consultant and spokesman for the Coalition Against Measure O

Ronald Reagan used to say, "Well, there you go again."

Every time you turn around, it seems Community Memorial Hospital is putting another false and misleading spin on Measure O.

First, they put out all those slick brochures telling people that Measure O would not cost the taxpayer a dime. That's a lie, plain and simple. Every cent of the Measure O money is taxpayer money.

Then they tried to tell you that every hospital would benefit from Measure O and that every community would get something out of Measure O. The truth is, if Measure O were in effect today, only three hospitals would benefit, and none of the hospitals in western Ventura County that competes against Community Memorial would get any funds.

In order to do as Community Memorial says to get the money, the other hospitals would have to lie too. The judge who ruled on the legality of the ballot arguments said Community Memorial's statements about every community in the county benefiting were false and misleading.

And there's that "audit" they talk about. Yep, there is an audit. They made sure that they'd have something in the initiative to try to fool you about that. Their audit is just a check to see that the pirates can't cheat one another. But there is no audit of how they spend any money they might get under Measure O. That's what really counts.

There is nothing to protect you! They sued to try to stop anyone from telling you that. The official ballot pamphlet says there is no audit of how they spend the money under Measure O. Once again, the judge ruled against Community Memorial and said this is an absolutely true statement.

And what about those glossy mail pieces that show our senior citizens happily getting some sort of medical help? They really want you to believe that there is something very special going on in Measure O for the elderly.

What's going on is an especially shameful lie. Read Section 4101-3b carefully. That's the part that talks about services to seniors. It says Measure O will provide in-home nursing and unskilled support services to the elderly. But only if they are not eligible for Medicare, Medi-Cal, a health maintenance organization, a retiree health plan, or any other public or private insurance program. Well, who would that be?

They say Measure O would help hospitals provide services to the elderly, children, poor and uninsured. If the idea was to pay for services to the elderly or children or the poor or uninsured, why not just put in the measure something that says that? They didn't because that's not what Measure O does.

The fact is, Measure O pays private hospitals for bad debt. It has nothing whatever to do with services to the poor or any other class of patient. Read Section 4101-6a and 4101-10a carefully. They want you to confuse "bad debt" with debts of the poor. That's not what bad debt is. State law says bad debt is money owed by someone who has the ability to pay but is unwilling to. That's the legal definition. Look it up in the state Office of Health Planning and Development's Accounting and Reporting Manual for California Hospitals (Section 1400).

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Community Memorial tries to make you believe that it provides huge amounts of care to the poor and uninsured, and that it's somehow OK to take the county's tobacco settlement money to pay for these services.

The Ventura County Grand Jury in both 1996 and 1998 found that about 90% of the care to the poor and uninsured was provided at Ventura County Medical Center or county clinics. According to the state data used in those reports, only about 1% of the care to the poor and uninsured is provided by Community Memorial.

Community Memorial paid a consultant for a private report to trump up fanciful figures and inflate the appearance of service to the poor in what can only be described as statistical prostitution.

Well, there you go again.

They tell you that you should vote for Measure O because you can't trust the politicians. Are you ready to trust the people who have given you lies about Measure O?

Abraham Lincoln is credited with observing, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time."

Don't be fooled by Measure O. Vote no on Measure O.

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