‘No New Revenue” Rate will Force Deep Cuts in Health Care, Pollution Control and Flood Control Projects
WHAT: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and Harris Health System officials will hold a news conference to discuss the detrimental impact of cutting funding for the Harris Health System, which will lead to poor health outcomes and even deaths in a county where 1 million people are without health insurance. These dire results will occur if the two “no-show” commissioners, who have missed the last three Commissioners Court meetings, refuse to attend Tuesday’s Court meeting. This meeting is the last opportunity to approve a county tax rate and budget that funds health care and other crucial services needed to protect the safety and well-being of every community. The “no-show” commissioners will force Harris County to cut $120 million from Harris Health System’s budget.
WHO: Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis
Louis Smith, Chief Operating Officer, Harris Health
Dr. Glorimar Medina, Executive Vice President, Ben Taub General Hospital
WHEN: Tuesday, Oct. 25, 9 a.m.
WHERE: Commissioner Rodney Ellis’s Office | 1001 Preston, Suite 950, Houston, TX. 77002
With Harris County Commissioners R. Jack Cagle and Tom S. Ramsey expected to be absent from Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting to purposely block a vote on the budget and tax rate, Commissioner Rodney Ellis and health care advocates will hold a news conference to discuss the detrimental impacts an underfunded budget would have on health care services.
“We have an obligation to pass a budget that best serves Harris County and protects the health, safety, and well-being of every community,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey are recklessly blocking a budget that makes urgently needed investments in public safety, health care, violence prevention, flood protection, and other vital services that people need and deserve.”
By not having the required four-member quorum to vote on the proposed budget, Commissioner Ellis said, the county will be forced to revert to a budget that doesn’t meet our current needs to fully serve and protect Harris County families or plan for the future.
“Where the wounds cut particularly deep are with health care,” Commissioner Ellis said. “People are going to die because of these budget cuts and my colleagues will have blood on their hands. Some have labeled these statements hyperbole. But we know that preventable diseases like early-stage breast cancer, lung cancer, and colon cancer will go undiagnosed due to these cuts.”
Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey’s absence from court will force the county to operate under the so-called “No New Revenue” rate. That will have dire effects on the Harris Health System – the largest provider of indigent health care in the county – because it may have to cut life-saving services for more than 10,000 patients.
For example, 1,500 people will not get inpatient behavioral health care; almost 4,500 people will not get dialysis, colonoscopies, and other screenings; 2,700 people will not receive home health care and wound cleaning; 646 patients will not get rehabilitation, long-term care, or hospice; and over 700 people will not be able to access inpatient care.
Over the past three years, the hospital district’s tax rate has been cut twice, resulting in an annual net revenue reduction of close to $50 million. The No New Revenue rate will force an even deeper operating loss because Harris Health already faces a $45 million deficit.
“I’m imploring my colleagues to do your job,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Protect our community. Stand up for your constituents. Support our health care heroes.”