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Wed, Dec. 11

Guest column<br><br>Your vote is needed to maintain quality health care, service in the Williams area<br>

The progress we have made in the subsequent 10 years is significant. The health care center currently employs six physicians and a physician assistant. We offer a variety of medical services such as traditional family practice, women’s health care, occupational medicine, as well as walk-in, urgent care extended hours every day, including weekends, between the hours of 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Medical advice by telephone is available when the health care center is closed while emergency medical personnel provided by River Medical Ambulance standby in the building for emergencies 24 hours a day. Ancillary services such as radiology, laboratory and physical therapy have all been improved and expanded with new technology and equipment. A building addition and remodel was completed in 2000 without a loan or special bond issue. All of these services and improvements have been accomplished without a significant increase in the tax rate.

Residents often ask, “Exactly what are my tax dollars used for at the health care center?” Aside from the obvious things like paying for a variety of health care providers, extended hours, expanding and improving existing services, tax dollars are spent for things you might not realize. This includes attracting and keeping quality staff members and providing for their required training to keep current with ever-changing medical treatments and procedures. It also supports free periodic screening days for diabetes, hypertension, cancer and high cholesterol, as well as free or reduced cost physical exams for many student athletes in the community. On-site lab and x-ray services performed by trained and certified personnel are also possible because of the tax subsidy. As the upcoming election approaches, we hope that you will consider the value of the many benefits provided to you and your family by the local clinic.

The managed care environment has also put extra pressure on rural physicians and clinics. HMO’s, PPO’s, Medicare and other discounted insurance plans cost patients less than traditional health insurance; a visit to the doctor may only cost a $20 co-pay. However, the reimbursement to the clinic from the managed care plan may only be 60-70 percent of the remaining balance. The clinic “writes off” the difference. Primary care physicians and clinics across the country simply can not afford these reductions in reimbursement and have experienced drastic cuts to staff and services. Contrary to that trend, the Williams Health Care Center has maintained a high quality of service while still participating with nearly all the major plans in our area. The ability to continue those contracts would be at serious risk without the benefits of the tax revenue.

It is important to note that the election does not advocate a tax increase but authorizes a continuation of an existing tax for five more years. The cost for the average homeowner is about $97 per year or $8 per month. If you have questions or want additional information about the special election, a presentation to the Williams City Council is scheduled for tomorrow in the City Council Chambers at 7 p.m. With a successful election, we will continue to offer a full compliment of high quality medical services including urgent care evening and weekend hours to the residents and visitors of our community.

If you were registered to vote by Feb. 9, you can vote in this election on March 9 between 6 a.m.-7 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, 629 W. Grant Avenue in Williams. Early voting begins Feb. 5 either by mail or on-site at the Williams City Office during regular business hours at 113 S. First St. in Williams. To request a ballot by mail, contact the Coconino County Elections Department at 928-779-6589.

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