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February 07, 2008


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I have nothing profound or interesting to say about the post, agreeing with both its substance and overall tenor. But I do want to mention that I was proud of my fellow citizens who, at the polls on "Super Tuesday," voted down a county-wide ballot measure that would have levied a special property tax increase "to preserve, complete and support Santa Barbara County's Trauma System and Emergency Medical Services Network in order to provide rapid emergency medical care to all people residing in this County."

Now of course many voters have a reflexive reaction against any increase in their property taxes, so I have no idea why people in fact voted against the proposed ballot measure, but suffice to say I was pleased. Why? Well, first of all, I don't recall any debate about this proposal, as it seems to have rather stealthily made its way onto the ballot. My wife, who works at the only hospital in town and is somewhat familiar with the situation at other hospitals in the county, was surprised as well by this proposal, not having heard through the grapevine, as it were, of this urgent need to seek new funds for trauma care. It seems the state law that provides partial funding for "the economic consequences to health care providers and hospitals resulting from the provision of uncompensated emergency medical services" will expire in a year (traditionally, the EMS fund gets its monies from criminal fines and motor vehicle violations), but rather than renew the law, they've authorized counties to collect taxes to make up for the lost revenue. However, the funds from the new measure can be used for other purposes as well, having to do specically with trauma care, and it's not at all clear that these purposes are backed by sufficient evidence of their need. I can certainly think of other reasons for a tax levy that would have a more profound impact on public health in the county, but they lack the glamour and drama of trauma health care.

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