To the Editor-
All too often, when our elected representatives no longer want to provide services which the public has become accustomed to receiving, they look to the private sector.
The refrain is “let the free market decide.”
Well, there is no free market and I have never seen a situation where privatization didn’t end up costing the consumer more money in the final analysis. It is abundantly clear the proposal on the table regarding the Portage County Health Care Center is privatization, plain and simple.
At the August 3 Portage County Health Care Center committee meeting, the public was allowed to comment after a presentation purported to dispel fact from fiction. It was interesting though that the committee chair admonished at least one speaker to not ask what the room rate would be once the non-profit organization takes over control and operation of the new facility: a facility to which the taxpayers would contribute $10 million. It seems to me this information would be essential for the taxpayers to know and telling someone not to ask for this information is troubling.
At that meeting, there was testimony from a maintenance technician which amounted to an accusation that county officials intentionally allowed the building to degrade by not performing or delaying necessary upkeep. Presumably this was done for purposes of being able to use the building’s deteriorating state as ammunition to bolster the need to move these services to the non-profit. If this is true, it amounts to a malfeasance.
There were repeated references to the health care center services not being mandated. There were also comments to the extent that the taxpayers, especially the younger generation would not be willing to pay more taxes to keep the health care center going.
If we’re going to look at which non-mandated services to cut, let’s put all of them on the table before targeting the health care center for termination. And as far as the younger generation is concerned, I doubt they would be stingy when they understand their parents and grandparents may well be receiving care paid for with the tax dollars they provide.
I came out of that meeting solidly in the camp of those who were calling for a referendum. There is no need to fast track this and before we close the door on the Portage County Health Care Center, the tax payers deserve an opportunity to decide.