Editorial – SJCDs Endorsements for Board of San Juan County Public Hospital District #1

October 10, 2015 by islandersvoice1

DSC02821Monica cropped

At the request of both candidates, the San Juan County Democrats (SJCDs) have endorsed Monica Harrington and Bill Williams in their races on the November 3 ballot for positions #3 and #5, respectively, on the board of commissioners of San Juan County Public Hospital District #1 (the District). (The other two candidates for position #2, the other District race on the ballot, have not asked for an endorsement.) We urge readers to vote for Monica and Bill.

Voting in the State of Washington is exclusively by mail. Ballots will be mailed to registered voters the week of October 12. Voting for the three positions on the District board is limited to registered voters of district #1 consisting of the following islands: San Juan, Brown, Henry, Johns, Pearl, Spieden, and Stuart.

In an article on September 26, Islanders’ Voice provided readers with detailed information on the elections, as well as on the background and operations of the District, Peace Island Medical Center (PIMC), and PeaceHealth, the owner/operator of PIMC and the recipient, through the District, of our tax dollars. Today’s editorial will focus instead on the endorsements of Bill and Monica. The previous article can be viewed at https://islandersvoice.com/2015/09/26/november-3-elections-to-board-of-hospital-district-1/.

The importance of this election cannot be overemphasized. As the board of the District has five commissioners, two of whom are incumbents not subject to reelection, the election of three new commissioners on November 3 has the potential to significantly refocus the District’s involvement in the delivery of health care services to the benefit of all citizens of district #1.

The primary reasons for the SJCDs’ endorsements of Bill and Monica are:

  1. Their positions on key health care issues align closely with the core principles of the SJCDs and of the majority of the citizens of district #1, including their support for Planned Parenthood and Washington State’s Reproductive Privacy Act (RPA) and Death with Dignity Act (DDA), both of which were overwhelmingly approved by the voters of our county.
  2. They believe that the District should continue to support with our tax dollars the full range of reproductive health care services for district #1 residents as it did when the IIMC was operating. They expect men and women to have equitable access to contraception, including vasectomies and tubal ligations, maternity care services, and abortion. The RPA, which was enacted through a vote of the people, makes clear that government is not to discriminate among a person’s personal choices in these areas. Selectively funding some services and not others is not allowed under the provisions of the RPA.
  3. We also believe that ensuring access to death with dignity services is important, with 75% of our county’s voters having approved the DDA. In order for it to be available, our community needs to be able to support physicians who can and will provide it, and we need to ensure patients know where to turn when they want to exercise their rights under the law. The SJCDs believe that Bill and Monica, unlike their opponents, will work to achieve this objective.
  4. We believe the Subsidy Agreement between the District and PeaceHealth should be amended so that the District can continue to provide taxpayer support for services that islanders want, need, and support, but that PIMC chooses not to deliver. Bill and Monica recognize that the existing agreement creates gaps in the provision of health care services in our community. If elected, they would work collaboratively with the other commissioners and PeaceHealth in an effort to fill these gaps by amending the agreement so that PIMC, or alternative providers using a portion of the tax dollars now going to PeaceHealth, will provide reproductive and end of life health care services that it does not provide today. In contrast, their opponents blindly support the Subsidy Agreement and are willing to continue to allow the District to subsidize the PIMC with taxpayer dollars in possible violation of Washington State law.
  5. Much has been said about a possible lawsuit against the District by the ACLU, which claims the Public Hospital District is violating Washington’s Reproductive Privacy Act, a Washington State law which was overwhelmingly approved by San Juan County voters. Bill and Monica are committed to avoiding such a lawsuit by working with PeaceHealth to amend the Subsidy Agreement, which channels our tax dollars to PIMC, in order to eliminate the conditions that could lead to the lawsuit. To the contrary, their opponents are unwilling to even acknowledge the possible flaws in the agreement and are unwilling to discuss possible amendments with PeaceHealth. Their opponents’ approach would increase the likelihood of a lawsuit by the ACLU with significant negative financial consequences to the District. The enlightened approach of Barbara, Bill, and Monica would minimize this possibility.
  6. Bill and Monica offer the best assurance that the EMS levy expiring on 12/31/16 will be renewed and that our community will not lose this invaluable service. From the day they take office, they would both devote their considerable business, budgetary, and communications experience and expertise to help assure renewal of the levy.
  7. Bill has more than 30 years of experience as a hospital/health care system administrator, managing military, civilian, and Kaiser Foundation hospitals ranging from a 60-bed MASH unit to a 440-bed acute care hospital. He is a decorated Army veteran who has developed an excellent understanding of how to deliver effective health care services under remote, stressful conditions. Throughout his career, Bill has been a forceful and effective advocate for patients. Moreover, his administrative experience means he can assure that our limited tax dollars are spent wisely and efficiently. He knows the operations of the District, PIMC, and EMS better than any other candidate, having attended the District’s monthly meetings almost continuously for the last several years.
  8. Monica has been a patient advocate for several years. Previously, she was employed in technology and later the nonprofit sector. She helped build two very successful companies, and managed large teams and budgets at Microsoft and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She also volunteered with Code for America and NetHope, two innovative nonprofits that help government and the nonprofit sector harness the power of technology to operate more efficiently. Monica is committed to ensuring our limited health care tax dollars fund services fairly for everyone, including islanders who cannot advocate for themselves.

The District election is all about making sure that the rights of islanders are protected and that we’re making taxpayer-based funding decisions about health care services based on what islanders want and need, now and for the next 50 years.

The SCJDs urge readers to vote on November 3 for Monica Harrington for position #3 and Bill Williams for position #5. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Feel free to pass this editorial on to anyone you know.

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