About the Holy Cross Hospital Mill Levy
The Taos County Commission voted to hold a special election on March 8th, 2016 to address Holy Cross Hospital's need for tax support to aid in necessary infrastructure maintenance. The Hospital leases the building and property from the county and unlike most renter/landlord agreements, the hospital is required to pay for upgrades and maintenance for building infrastructure systems like boilers, heating, water, and so on. According to an engineering report conducted by an outside agency earlier this year, we need to invest at least $2.6 million in needed capital improvements. A copy of that report is located here.
In a 4-1 vote, the commissioners voted to call a special election for registered voters of Taos County to decide on a 1 mill increase on property taxes. The 1 mill increase in taxes will only affect land owners in Taos County, and will increase land taxes by around $33.33 per $100,000 in property value per year and will be in place for four years. The 1 mill increase is expected to generate $1.4 million dollars for the hospital every year for four years.
The commission favored a mill levy over a gross receipts tax increase for two reasons:
- Taos has one of the highest GRT rates in the state while having some of the lowest property taxes
- The mill levy will raise $400,000 more annually than a GRT rate increase would.
On March 8th, 2016 votes were tallied and in the mill levy was passed in a landslide election.
The results were:
Why is the mill levy needed?
The Hospital requested tax support from the county to help combat continued reductions in state and federal support for rural hospitals. Recent changes in healthcare have negatively affected Holy Cross Hospital’s bottom line. In order to maintain the robust list of services that make the hospital indispensable for the community, additional funding is needed. The primary issues affecting the Hospital’s bottom line are:
A reduction in state and federal reimbursements
Government payers like Medicare and Medicaid pay us less per procedure today than they did just two years ago.
A shift in the payer mix
The last few years have shown an increase in Medicaid patients (our worst payer) and a decrease in private health insurance (our best payers). This may be attributed to the Affordable Care Act.
Continued unpaid hospital visits
We are a rural hospital in a very poor state. As a non-profit hospital, we provide emergency medical services to anyone who needs them, regardless of their ability to pay. Historically, state and federal reimbursements helped pay for the high numbers of unpaid visits our rural hospital provides. Now, many of these reimbursement programs have been significantly reduced or have been eliminated altogether, while we are still providing those medical services.
Our CEO, Bill Patten, and his administrative team have already made some major changes at the Hospital to help combat some of the increasing financial burdens. Bill joined the Hospital team in June, and in the first 6 months of the fiscal year we had a positive bottom line of $344,248. This is the first time the hospital has been ‘in the green’ (without a loss) in five years.
Holy Cross Hospital is an indispensable asset for Taos. Beyond providing health care services for our community, the hospital attracts retirees, supports tourism, and employs over 350 local community members. Having our own rural hospital is part of what makes us a great community.
We thank the community for the support and trust they have shown for Holy Cross Hospital. We are planning to keep everyone updated regarding how the new funds will be used.
How does Holy Cross Hospital affect our community?
For the past 80 years, Holy Cross Hospital has been here to care for our community. From our roots as a small rural hospital in a building donated by Mabel Dodge Lujan, to our current state-of-the-art medical center providing a vast range of services, we’re dedicated to serving Taos residents and visitors.
In 2015 we served our community with:
- 72,726 patient visits
- 15,563 emergency room visits
- 230 baby deliveries
- Over $48,000 raised for Cancer Support services
- 555 insurance applications to help individuals receive benefits
- 1,955 home visits by Taos First Steps to support families with young children
Employment and economy
Holy Cross Hospital is Taos' largest employer, providing jobs for 383 people – and that number climbs to 431 when you include all of Taos Health Systems. In 2015 alone, we paid more than $23 million in salaries – a huge share of our local economy.
The availability of quality local healthcare is often the deciding factor for families, retirees, and businesses that choose to relocate to Taos.
We operate a number of valuable community outreach programs, offering vitally important resources to many families in Taos and beyond.
- Cancer Support Services–Non-medical support for individuals facing cancer
- Benefit Navigation–Helps individuals complete insurance applications and access available state and federal benefits
- First Steps–Home visiting for families with children 0 – 3
- Taos Alive – Drug and alcohol abuse prevention and education
Community Events & Partnerships