Four Jefferson Healthcare hospital commission hopefuls focus on Affordable Care Act effects
Hospital commissioner candidates Jill Buhler, Savannah Hensel, Marc Mauney and Matt Ready, from left, appear before the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday. -- Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
Print This | Email This
Series of small earthquakes rattles Quilcene-Brinnon area [Updated] -- 12/6/13 -11:55 AM
Don't ya know: Mariners agree to 10-year, $240 million deal with Robinson Cano -- 12/6/13 -09:18 AM
Boise State's Petersen to be next UW football coach -- 12/6/13 -09:15 AM
Today's PDN Page 1 . . . and read faster, absorb more -- 12/5/13 -07:50 PM
PENINSULA HOME FUND — Donors' generosity lifts couple toward a better life -- 12/3/13 -10:51 PM
“It is a very complicated issue and will be difficult to implement,” said Jill Buhler, who is running for a fourth term as Position 5 commissioner of Jefferson Healthcare’s parent Public Hospital District No. 2 against challenger Savannah Hensel.
Buhler was part of a forum hosted by the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce on Monday, during which the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” was a principal topic.
She told of forums that the hospital district is planning.
“We will be hosting a series of forums on how to get people enrolled. Part of the instruction as to how to sign up for the programs will come from the hospitals.”
“There are a lot of people at Jefferson Healthcare who are working to adapt to the new laws, and they are doing a great job of it,” said Matt Ready, who is vying with Mark Mauney for Position 3 on the hospital commission.
“But it will be a huge adjustment. It takes the monster of a health care system that we already have and turns it into a different monster.”
Ready said a little-known fact about the program is that while diagnosis is free, treatment is not.
Ballots in the all-mail Nov. 5 election will be distributed Oct. 16.
In addition to the two contended seats, Nikki Hay is unopposed for Position 2 commissioner.
The candidates have formed slates by which the incumbents and the challengers are campaigning together.
This sets up an experience-versus-change option for the voters, they said.
And the Chamber of Commerce audience was given a dose of the option.
“During the implementation of Obamacare, there will absolutely be bumps along the road, and Congress will look to trusted leaders, like me, to help smooth the journey,” Buhler said.
“My opponent, while altruistic, is woefully misguided. My mandate as commissioner is not to change the law but to work within the system for the betterment of Jefferson Healthcare.”
“My opponent has claimed that I am out of touch with reality,” Hensel said.
“I think this is an example of her failure to branch out of her own life and understand how many realities exist from Brinnon to Port Townsend.
“I will use my life experience as an uninsured working person in this county to represent the grossly under-represented.”
The crux of the campaign for Ready, who now works as a problem solver for Jefferson Healthcare, is to provide health care for those who cannot afford it.
“I have worked on several problems at the hospital for 15 years, but this is one that I could not solve,” Ready said,
“A friend of mine would not seek treatment due to its cost. Instead of going further into debt, she decided to roll the dice with her health, and I found that far too many patients are now doing the same thing.”
“We have implemented some great changes since 2008, when I first joined the board,” Mauney said.
“We have new facilities, and the morale is better. There are many services we do not offer, but we will take care of anyone in Jefferson County regardless of their ability to pay.”
All four candidates said the hospital should maintain an active advertising campaign, although Ready said he didn’t think there should be a full-time employee devoted to advertising while there isn’t one to promote access to health care.
“It’s an important part of what we do because a lot of people out in the county aren’t aware of what services we have,” Buhler said.
“In order to get more patients and get our community members where we can serve them, we need to make them aware. It’s the business side of health care, and it is important.”
“Advertising is an important way to let people know what the hospital offers, but if that doesn’t work, we need to try other things,” Hensel said.
“Let’s door-knock; let’s get out and talk to people to find out what they are thinking. Everyone in this community elected the people on this board, so we need to be out there answering questions.
“If I’m elected, I will knock on everyone’s door in this county to tell them what services the hospital has for them because if they don’t know, how can we help them?”
Throughout the forum, the challengers attempted to paint the incumbents as out of touch while the incumbents criticized the challengers for their lack of experience.
“Matt has a vision, but I have a business plan,” Mauney said.
At the end of the forum, Buhler lived the candidate’s worst nightmare: She was the fourth to answer a question about the hospital’s role in implementing the Affordable Care Act and had a memory lapse.
“I agree with what Mark said,” she said before falling silent and pausing:
“I’m sorry, but I forgot the question.”
After laughter, she provided an answer.
“We will be doing many of the things we do today, but the difference is we will be getting some funding for them,” she said.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: September 23. 2013 6:57PM