Health district for La Plata County?

A community task force, which includes representatives of the Colorado Nurses Association, Action Coalition for Medical Excellence, Valley Wide Health Systems, Mercy Medical Center, United Way of Southwest Colorado, San Juan Basin Health Department, the League of Women Voters, Rocky Mountains Health Plan and the La Plata County Medical Society, has just released the results of two surveys and a local health fair poll on health care and insurance issues in La Plata County.

The surveys reveal:

  • Eighteen percent of residents have no health insurance.
  • Twenty-one percent have no regular primary-care provider.
  • Practitioners of internal medicine and pediatrics are in short supply.
  • Cost is the most common barrier to seeking medical help.
  • Forty-three percent would support a tax increase to widen medical coverage.

The 11-member task force wants to identify local needs and local solutions and find local funding to implement the solutions. Some of the Primary Care Access Study Group’s recommendations include:

  • Create a health-service district that would be funded by a property-tax increase. The tax revenue or financial support public or private groups could subsidize primary care, for example at San Juan Basin Health Department or the community health clinic currently operated by Valley Wide Health Systems clinics.
  • Urge La Plata County Medical Society members to devise a fair-share plan so no single practitioner has a disproportionate number of indigent, uninsured, underinsured, Medicare or Medicaid patients.
  • Establish a challenge fund through which business groups, charitable organizations and government agencies could match dollar donations from private physician groups, Mercy Medical Center or Valley Wide Health Systems to recruit health-care providers in deficit categories.

A health-care district would require approval by elected officials and a judge before it could go on a ballot. The earliest the proposal could be put to voters would be May 2006.

Read the full article in The Durango Herald . . .


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