By editorial board • 

Don’t fall for industry con; reject charter amendment

Care center conglomerates are employing a barrage of scare tactics and a blizzard of disinformation to hoodwink you into supporting a city ordinance repeal measure on your Nov. 5 ballot.

Don’t let them succeed with this sort of subterfuge: vote no.

Support your locally elected representatives and stand up for local control. Reward local action to curb abuse of your tax-supported emergency services system and plug a drain on your tax-supported safety inspection and training program.

For many years, the city’s senior care centers have been relying on highly specialized, extremely costly emergency ambulance services for tasks they are contractually obligated — and eminently qualified — to provide on their own. The roster includes routine lifting and transport services, even transport for routine prescription renewals.

The city has invested untold hours exhorting its 15 centers to curb unnecessary calls, but didn’t make a noticeable dent until it passed Ordinance 5059 earlier this year.

Imposing a $1,500 fine for medically unnecessary calls brought the flow to a virtually instantaneous halt. The city hasn’t had to impose the new fine even once, because the homes have quit abusing the system.

The city’s 1,093 senior care center beds account for only 3 percent of its population, but 35% to 38% of its highly subsidized EMS calls.

The bulk of those calls are legitimate, as the senior community accounts for a greatly disproportionate share of EMS use, and no one aims to deter legitimate use. But the homes continued to generate baseless calls until the city finally converted its well-intended words into well-intended actions.

Care centers also account for a large share of the fire department’s inspection and training resources, exacerbated by heavy turnover among front-line workers. The city responded, in Ordinance 5059, by imposing a $500 application processing fee and $200 per bed inspection and training surcharge to cover the extra expense.

In its effort to overturn the ordinance, the nursing home industry has labeled these as “unfair and discriminatory taxes on seniors.” But in actual fact, they are not unfair, they are not discriminatory, they are not taxes and they do not target seniors. They are direct fee-for-service charges imposed on corporate entities operating on a multi-state scale.

The ordinance prohibits centers from passing EMS fines along to residents. The extent to which they pass on the additional $16.67 a month needed to cover the inspection and training fee is strictly up to them.

All that aside, our biggest beef here is that the industry isn’t just attempting to overturn the ordinance. It is attempting to amend the city charter — equivalent to a constitutional amendment on the state or federal level — to exempt itself from any fines and fees in perpetuity. It’s doing so with a near absence of organized opposition, because units of government are barred from taking political stands, even in their own behalf.

Our advice to voters is to: Ignore the fog of misinformation being fueled by generous dollops of out-of-state dollars. Take a stand in the best interests of all members of the McMinnville community — including senior members — by voting no.



"Con", really? You can do better. An opinion is fine but this is simply inaccurate. This is local and national dollars supporting bad policy change that hurts local seniors and caries national implications. Why not focus on the support for this Measure by the Alzheimer's Association, Firefighters Union and Rock of Ages, a local non-profit known for its quality and integrity? Don't let government get away with this, vote YES.

Web Design and Web Development by Buildable