Some time this weekend, I had an epiphany about living in KC vs the outstate area where my roots are…and I realized why I will never move back there. KC and St. Louis are big enough to take care of themselves and, in the case of KC at least, take care of our own. State lege won’t expand Medicaid? We’ll renew the health care levy and expand services at Truman.
Obamacare may hold out hope of insuring millions more Americans, but Kansas City voters decided Tuesday that was a promise they couldn’t quite trust.
Instead they overwhelmingly put their trust, by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin, in the nine-year renewal of a local property tax to ensure health care access for people who may remain uninsured or underinsured despite the new federal health care law.
The tax was first approved in 2005, but it failed north of the Missouri River at that time, and succeeded only with big support south of the river. This time, it passed decisively both north and south of the Missouri River.
“It’s a statement that people matter,” said John Bluford, chief executive of Truman Medical Centers, one of the key recipients of the funds.
Full Disclosure: I was one of the people in 2005 who stood outside the Sun Fresh in Brookside, wearing scrubs and handing out information on the health care levy we were getting ready to vote on and why it was important to pass it. I worked at Research Medical Center, the “flagship” hospital of the HCA Midwest system. HCA is for-profit, and the first thing they did when they bought the community-based non-profit Health Midwest (HCA didn’t hire me, they inherited me) system was first promise us nothing would change, then promptly shut down the free dialysis clinic. That was 2003. We, the employees, had a collective hissy-fit, and raised the money to reopen it. We could do that, we were the biggest hospital in the system, and you get 80% of the people working there to donate one hour of base wages to the cause, and you raise the money you need right-quick. We reacted in much the same way when Matt Blunt became governor in January 2005. By April, we had a health levy on the ballot and it passed overwhelmingly.
The lege cuts economic development so Rex Sinquefield can have a tax cut, so the Jackson County legislature puts a half-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot to fund biomedical research.
Jackson County voters will decide Nov. 5 whether to approve a half-cent sales tax funding medical research at two area hospitals and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
If approved, the tax would be collected for 20 years, raising roughly $40 million annually in current dollars to fund a new Jackson County Institute for Translational Medicine.
County legislators voted Monday along party lines, 7-2, to put the measure on the ballot at the urging of civic leaders and the three institutions that would share the bulk of those tax proceeds.
Children’s Mercy Hospital would get half the money raised, minus the cost of collecting the tax and conducting annual audits.
St. Luke’s Hospital and the University of Missouri-Kansas City would each get nearly 20 percent, or roughly $8 million each per year. The remaining 10 percent would go “to further the economic development initiatives of the institute,” such as funding training programs at the Metropolitan Community Colleges.
Supporters of the tax say the idea is to build on the medical research capabilities of the three main beneficiaries. Each would hire top scientists and furnish them with laboratories, equipment and support staff. The goal is to develop cures, treatments and procedures that would improve health care and spur business development.
Supporters say that by the 10th year that the tax is collected, it would lead to the hiring of nine “world-class investigators” and more than 230 jobs.
We will move forward, and bitter resentments of our outstate cousins aside, we won’t be hindered on the road to progress just because they persist in sending ill-mannered and stupid people to represent them in the state lege.
But to me, it’s personal.
My father had two aneurysms. He survived the first one intact, but the second one killed him in his sleep. I had two aneurysms, and I’m here to write this post, to work toward my Master’s degree, to spoil my grandchildren, to play with my dog and to love my husband. And the reason I survived to tell the tale and my dad didn’t is research that led to new diagnostic and treatment options. Research in the neuro-sciences have yielded best-practices that without a doubt saved my life and could very well save the life of someone you love.
And as far as I’m concerned, that’s all the reason anyone ought to need to support the proposed research sales tax in Jackson County.
Previously, on the campaign finance end of the story:
Campaign Finance: not quite plural (August 22, 2013)
Campaign Finance: make it an even $50,000.00 (August 28, 2013)
Campaign Finance: counter volley (August 30, 2012)
Campaign Finance: a citizen keeps contributing (September 3, 2013)