Physician raises questions about ‘millions’ flowing from nursing homes in
Gunnison Valley Hospital
By Robert Stevens
GUNNISON—A local physician told the Gunnison City Council there is a large potential revenue stream they might tap to bring in more money.
Dr. Kimberly Beck of Centerfield addressed the council on Wednesday, May 8 with the idea, which concerned the publicly owned Gunnison Valley Hospital, which is supported by a special taxing district that encompasses the Gunnison Valley.
“I am going to ask that you think a little bit out of the box with this idea,” Beck said. “In particular, I’m going to talk about the hospital and some of the money coming in through the special service district. The cities own the special service district, and there is a lot of money coming in, millions and millions.
Beck said the money she was referring to “isn’t just normal money,” such as property tax collections. “It is contracts that the hospital has signed with other entities where there are large volumes of cash flow.”
According to Beck, the contracts are generally connected to nursing facilities, such as Mission at Community Assisted Living Center. Beck says the community-owned Gunnison Valley Hospital receives revenue from the facilities. It is responsible for the operating and capital expenses at the facilities. But there are millions rolling in above those expenses, and none of it comes to the communities that own the hospital.
“Think of it like a store in your community owned by an out-of-area corporation,” Beck said. “You have local people coming in doing business at the store, but the corporation itself is owned elsewhere. Normally you would take a piece of that revenue from the sales at the store and tax it
“…You have the very same thing happening here with the hospital, except they are making gobs of cash and they are not paying taxes on it.”
Beck said many of the funds coming in to the nursing facilities are federal dollars. She said the millions come in, a small cut goes to the state, the hospital gets 21 percent, and then the nursing facilities themselves get 49 percent.
“That’s a huge resource and the cities get virtually nothing from it,” Beck told the council. “I’m not minimizing the wages and benefits that come in from the jobs (at the hospital and Mission at Community center), but as far as adding to the tax base, there is none of that because it’s a special service district that was formed decades ago.
“I would suggest to you that perhaps this is an antiquated form of governance…and maybe you should think about restructuring it so the communities actually get some benefit from the largest income- producing business that resides in our community. Right now we get nothing.”
Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay spoke up, saying, “Because (the hospital) is funneled through a governmental entity, the special service district, there is no taxes on it. I see your argument; however, it’s all legally bound and the only thing that could change that is if we changed how it was set up. That’s a pretty major change that you are suggesting.”
Beck acknowledged it was something that would need to be examined and handled carefully, but urged the council to consider it, even saying she could provide them the financial records that detail the millions coming in with none going to the community.
“I have the financial statements, which I will gladly provide you,” Beck said. “If you look at this community, the likelihood that there will be a lot of other…income-producing entities coming here, it’s unlikely. We need to figure out our strengths and then figure out how to maximize our benefit from them.”
Beck said she had some hesitations about speaking openly about the idea, for fear of some sort of civil litigation.
“I am very careful about how I phrase this,” she said, “because I don’t want someone to come and sue me because I read a public document and voiced my opinion as a practicing physician who has some working understanding of all this.”
Nay said she agreed that this was something the city needed to look into, considering the new developments concerning the nursing facility contracts and the millions funneling through the nursing facilities and hospital.
“The communities are supposed to own this business, or at least we think we do,” Beck said. “Please read the financial statements. I think they are very enlightening.”