Low-cost health care at center of property tax issue - KCTV5

Low-cost health care at center of property tax issue on KC ballot

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Kansas Citians will be voting on three measures Tuesday.

Question 1 on the ballot involves a property tax to help fund low-cost healthcare.

It's an extension of a tax levy that was supposed to be temporary when it passed in 2005.  It was a levy that was added to an existing permanent health care tax. Now, proponents want nine years more.

The reason behind this, proponents say, is because costs are up.  And so are the number of people who count on low-cost care. This includes people not poor enough to qualify for government aid but not stable enough to cover the costs on their own.

"The patients who receive the care provided by this funding often have two jobs. They might work at Starbucks. They might work at the restaurant you work at," said Gerard Grimaldi, Vice President of Health Policy at Truman Medical Centers.  "But for this funding, many services would not be available for Kansas Citians."

Truman Medical Centers' two hospitals and one mental health clinic would get 68 percent of the tax money.  Ambulance service would get 16 percent, and the remaining 16 percent would go to private, nonprofit clinics.

Those five clinics provide the preventative care intended to improve health and on cut back on more expensive emergency room visits.

Brookside mechanic Rick Behrend says he's all for that.

"There's so many people without healthcare. It costs a fortune for them to go to an emergency room when they could absolutely go to a doctor," Behrend said.

The levy means a continuation of just under $50 per year for each $100,000 in assessed valuation.

The median home value in Kansas City is $137,000.  The levy at that value would be $66 each year.

Proponents say what is often referred to as Obamacare would cover those services eventually, but its implementation is uncertain.

Though some have questioned whether a stop-gap should last nine years.

"All estimates show that when the Affordable Health Care Act is fully implemented, in the next decade, there will still be 30 to 40 million uninsured folks in our country," Grimaldi said.

There are also two other questions on the ballot.

Question 2 is about hotel taxes.

Right now, nonprofits don't have to pay the 7.5 percent sales tax on hotels.  Question 2 would require most of those nonprofits to pay the tax.

Question 3 focuses on the National Nuclear Security Administration plant which makes parts for national defense.

Voting yes on this question would prohibit the city from giving any assistance to companies doing business with the nuclear parts plant.

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