Newswire : Medicaid funding, public transportation highlight Arise’s 2018 priorities

Alabama Arise logo

New Medicaid revenue and creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund are among the goals on Alabama Arise’s 2018 legislative agenda. Nearly 200 Arise members picked the group’s issue priorities at its annual meeting Saturday in Montgomery. The seven goals chosen were:

· Tax reform, including untaxing groceries and closing corporate income tax loopholes;
· Adequate funding for vital services like education, health care and child care, including approval of new tax revenue to prevent Medicaid cuts;
· Consumer protections to limit high-interest payday loans and auto title loans in Alabama;
· Dedicated state revenue for the Alabama Housing Trust Fund;
· Reforms to Alabama’s death penalty system, including a moratorium on executions;
· Creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund; and
· Reforms to Alabama’s criminal justice debt policies, including changes related to cash bail and driver’s license revocations for minor offenses.

“All Alabamians deserve equal justice and an opportunity to build a better life for themselves and their families,” Alabama Arise state coordinator Kimble Forrister said. “We’re excited to continue our work for policy changes that would make it easier for hard-working Alabamians to get ahead.”

More than one in five Alabamians – almost all of whom are children, seniors, pregnant women, or people with disabilities – have health coverage through Medicaid. That coverage plays an important role in keeping hospitals and doctors’ offices open across the state, especially in rural areas.

“Medicaid is the backbone of Alabama’s health care system, and we must keep it strong,” Forrister said. “The Legislature needs to step up and approve new, sustainable revenue for Medicaid in 2018. It’s time to stop the annual funding battles and ensure all Alabamians have access to health care.”

Lack of adequate transportation is another major challenge that limits economic growth and erects barriers to daily living for many low-income residents and people with disabilities across Alabama. Arise will push for creation of a state Public Transportation Trust Fund as a step toward closing that gap. A bill to create a trust fund passed the Senate this year and has momentum heading into 2018.

Alabama Arise is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of congregations, organizations and individuals promoting public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.

Newswire : Historic marker honors Autherine Lucy Foster, Tuscaloosa Civil Rights heroine


 U. A. campus to honor Autherine Lucy Foster; and her 1956 student photo
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A giant in civil rights history was recognized on Friday, September 15, 2017 with the unveiling of the Autherine Lucy Foster Historic Marker at The University of Alabama.
An afternoon ceremony was held on the lawn of Graves Hall. Speakers were UA President Stuart R. Bell, Dr. Peter Hlebowitsh, dean of the College of Education; Marian Accinno Loftin, a UA distinguished alumna; and Dr. E. Culpepper “Cully” Clark, former UA dean and communication professor emeritus and author of “The Schoolhouse Door: Segregation’s Last Stand at The University of Alabama.”
In stressing Foster’s importance to UA’s history, Bell said, “Mrs. Foster’s initiative and courage opened the doors and created the opportunity for all races to attend the University. This historic marker will serve as a testament to her enduring impact on our campus and beyond.”
Hlebowitsh said the idea for the marker came from faculty who petitioned the University to place a historic marker near the site where Foster first attempted to enroll but was driven away by a mob in 1956.
“We are gratified that the University is recognizing Mrs. Foster in this manner,” Hlebowitsh said. “This honor is in keeping with the magnitude of her contributions to the history of our University.”
On being notified of the honor, Foster said, “I never imagined my decision to enroll would affect so many in so many ways. Today, I have several children who have attended the University and am, myself, a proud graduate and member of the alumni association. I am very humbled that the University has chosen to recognize me in this way.”
The Autherine Lucy Foster story is one of persistence, patience and desire for self-improvement. In 1952, after graduating with an English degree from Miles College, she applied to UA but was rejected because of her race. After a three-year legal battle, she was admitted by court order.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, 1956, she registered as a student in UA’s College of Education. That Friday, Feb. 3, she attended her first class as a graduate student in library science, becoming the first black person in Alabama admitted to a white public school or university. But on Monday, Feb. 6, as some 3,000 protested, the board of trustees expelled her, citing her and other students’ safety.
Loftin was in a children’s literature class with Foster on that fateful day. She had these memories of the turbulence as well as of Foster’s contributions to UA history:
“On Friday, February 3, Autherine’s first day in class, she crossed the Quad alone without notable incident. But on Monday a crowd gathered, and the disturbance accelerated. Chants became angry shouts. Our class was dismissed, and Autherine was ushered out of the building to safety.”
Loftin continued: “I had the honor of nominating her to the College of Education’s Educator Hall of Fame — our College’s highest honor — and to be seated at her table in 2016 when she was inducted. It was a delight to see her interact with the guests, who admired her so greatly. Seated in her wheelchair, she was gracious, with a good-natured sense of humor.”
In 1988, the University officially annulled her expulsion. The next year she re-enrolled at UA with her daughter, Grazia. Foster earned a master’s in elementary education in 1991 and participated in the graduation ceremony in May 1992 with her daughter, a corporate finance major.
In 1998, UA named an endowed fellowship in Foster’s honor and unveiled a portrait of her in the Student Union Building. She was recognized again in 2010 when the University dedicated the Autherine Lucy Clock Tower recognizing her as one of three UA desegregation pioneers, along with Vivian Malone and James Hood.
Today, UA is a multicultural campus including more than 4,000 African-Americans among its approximately 38,500 students.

Newswire : Thousands of celebrities, luminaries and ordinary people bid Dick Gregory farewell

By Barrington M. Salmon

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 Thousands filled the City of Praise Church to honor the contributions of Dick Gregory. PHOTO: Roy Lewis/Trice Edney News Wire

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Several thousand mourners packed into a Landover, Md. church listened as friends, family and admirers lionized comedian, social justice warrior, civil rights activist and provocateur Dick Gregory. The spirited, electric memorial service on Saturday, Sept. 18, turned out to be more celebration than funeral.
Gregory’s passing brought together a constellation of local, national and international celebrities and luminaries from the arts, entertainment, politics and sports as well as ordinary people, all whose lives Gregory touched over the course of his 84 years.
Among the descriptors used: Firestarter, agitator, freedom fighter, legend, peacemaker, genius, artist, teacher, guide.
“We experience the loss not of a comedian but the loss of one sent from above to be a guide, a teacher, a friend, a teacher, an activist, a giver, a sufferer, one of the most marvelous human beings I have had the privilege of meeting during my 84 years of life on this planet,” said Minister Louis Farrakhan, who gave the eulogy. “I want to thank Mother Lillian and the Gregory family for the great honor and privilege that you have given me to ask me to be the eulogist for a man that is so difficult to describe, But I’m going to try in a few words to say what I think and I believe about man who lie there but is not here.”
He continued, “I enjoyed every speaker, every song, every word … Everyone who spoke represented the matchless, exquisite diamond that Dick Gregory represented and as the light shined on that diamond in every direction a different color because he was a man who represented every color of the sun,” he said. “His mind was always on justice and on peace, on freedom and equity, not only for Nlack people, but all who were deprived.”

Speaking of Gregory’s dogged research, he said Gregory would bring a suitcase with materials and newspapers giving facts and figures, things he heard and sought the truth about.
“Dick Gregory had us laughing but he was not a comedian. Even his jokes were filled with wisdom. He was so far beyond dogma and doctrine and rituals of religion. I loved to hear Dick talk about the real God, the Universal God because he had grown and outgrown the negativity of denominationalism and the sectarianism of religion. He wanted us to grow into where he was.”
Farrakhan had been proceeded by a parade of stars of sorts bring reflections about Gregory from every walk of life.
“I’m so pleased that you organized a real celebration where you’re not ending quickly and trying to shut people up. I’m going to take as long as I want,” said U. S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) to peals of laughter and applause. “I have talked to Dick for hours. We would talk – no, he would talk – about things going on in the world. He brought me to this time and place in my life.”
For more than six hours, in a service “Celebrating the Life of a Legend,” people regaled attendees spread over the City of Praise Family Ministries with stories about Richard Claxton Gregory. The speakers also included Stevie Wonder, Bill and Camille Cosby, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, members of the American Indian Movement, The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and the Hon. Louis Farrakhan.
“I praise him who has brought us all together,” said Myrlie Evers-Williams, widow of slain Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers and a close friend of Gregory’s. “I give thanks to Dick Gregory for this. I recommend that we love each other, recommend that we hold the memories and hopefully rededicate ourselves to the ideals that Dick Gregory believed in.”
Evers-Williams’ husband, Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s first Field Secretary in Mississippi, was shot and killed in an assassination in his driveway in 1963. She said the work of civil rights is clearly not finished.
“Seeing the children of the leaders, I saw them speak the truth of their parents, speak the truth of their generation and speak the truth of what America should be…Let us not forget who we are and remember that each of us has a responsibility to keep on doing the job.”
Interspersed with the speakers were musical performances by India Irie, Ayanna Gregory, Sweet Honey on the Rock, the Morgan State University Choir, Farafina Kan, and ‘Scandal’ star Joe Morton reprising a portion of his one-man biographical play on Gregory, “Turn Me Loose,” among others.
One extraordinary moment brought together several children of slain Civil Rights activists and Rain Pryor, daughter of comedian Richard Pryor. Renee Evers-Everette, Martin Luther King, III, and llyasah Shabazz, the third daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz extolled Gregory.
“Baba was part of my Pryor life of laughter and that special attention he gave you,” said Pryor. “He said that truths were soul food and a map to live by. He told me to always choose my words wisely. Today, as we honor our newest Ancestor, we are reminded not to morph, not to imitate, but to speak the highest truth. We have to keep them lifted in our actions as we become the change they sought.”
Evers-Everette said she initially refused strenuously when asked by Ayanna Gregory to speak but, “There’s no way I could not be here,” she said. “My father and Dick Gregory were brothers of the spirit and the hearts … They (her father and other slain Civil Rights activists) spilled the blood of truth for our freedoms. The words, wisdom and spirit they powered out in us was given to the world. The time given may have been small but it was enormous. They made the most impact on our minds and hearts.”
Shabazz said Gregory fought for people trapped on the periphery of economics and justice.
“He challenged the social climate and challenged a superpower that has been systematically and historically unjust to certain populations,” she said. “I’m honored to be here today for my parents and Ancestors. The Ancestors are lining up to welcome Baba in anticipation of a progress report on the status of life down here.”
“When it came time to say who took Malcolm’s life he rose to the occasion. He clarified Martin Luther King Jr’s death and raised his voice for those slain by bullies and bigots,” Shabazz explained. “And when this new generation reminded the world that Black Lives Matter, he stood up with them and spoke truth to power.”
In 1961, Dick Gregory’s big break came when he was asked to fill in for another comedian at Chicago’s Playboy Club. What was supposed to be a one-night gig lasted two months and led to an appearance on the Tonight Show and a profile in Time Magazine. Fifty-dollar-a-night gigs became $5,000 a night appearances. Gregory waded into Civil Rights leading and joining marches and often getting arrested for his involvement in demonstrations for justice and equality, for Native American rights, DC statehood and an assortment of other causes. Several people said he gave up millions as he assumed the mantle of activism.
Master of Ceremonies the Rev. Mark Thompson, host of Sirius XM radio’s ‘Make It Plain’ recalled that commitment. “He helped us lead the statehood movement in 1993,” Thompson recalled. “We were the original Tea Party – no taxation without representation. We went to jail every week for the entire summer.”
Waters, who has gained notoriety as an outspoken and acerbic critic of President Donald Trump, promised that she would continue to be “this dishonorable person’s” worst nightmare.
Waters concluded, “I’ve decided I don’t want to be safe. I’m not looking for people to like me. It’s time for us to walk the walk. If you cared about him, loved him, stop being so weak. It’s time to stop skinning and grinning. It’s time for us to have the courage to do what we need to do, especially at this hour.”

Newswire : South Africa remembers the Steve Biko legacy

Steve Biko
Steve Biko

Sept. 18, 2017 (GIN) – South Africans marked the 40th year since the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Centre.

An African nationalist and African socialist, Biko was at the forefront of a grassroots campaign known as the Black Consciousness Movement during the late 1960s and 1970s. His ideas were articulated in a series of articles published under the pseudonym Frank Talk and later, in two books.

Nelson Mandela called him “the spark that lit a veld fire across South Africa”, adding that the race-based Nationalist government “had to kill him to prolong the life of apartheid”. In an anthology of his work in 2008, Manning Marable and Peniel Joseph wrote that his death had “created a vivid symbol of black resistance” to apartheid that “continues to inspire new black activists” over a decade after the transition to majority rule.

Johann de Wet, a professor of communication studies, described him as “one of South Africa’s most gifted political strategists and communicators”.

“Steve Biko fought white supremacy and was equally disturbed by what he saw as an inferiority complex amongst black people,” said President Jacob Zuma at one of the memorial events recalling Biko’s life. “He advocated black pride and black self-reliance, believing that black people should be their own liberators and lead organizations fighting for freedom. He practiced what he preached with regards to self-reliance and led the establishment of several community projects which were aimed at improving the lives of the people.”

“They may have killed the man, but his ideas live on,” wrote Professor Tinyiko Maluleke of the University of South Africa in an editorial citing Biko’s writings: “I Write What I Like” and “Black Souls in White Skins”.

Although Biko’s ideas have not received the same attention as Frantz Fanon’s, the men shared a highly similar pedigree in their interests in the philosophical psychology of consciousness, their desire for a decolonizing of the mind, the liberation of Africa and in the politics of nationalism and socialism for the ‘wretched of the earth’, according to Professors Pal Ahluwalia and Abebe Zegeye of the University of Adelaide and South Africa.

Biko died on Sept. 12, 1977 from injuries sustained while in police custody at what was then called the Pretoria Central Prison. His murderers, four officers of the security branch in Port Elizabeth, were denied amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in February 1999.

Sheriff Jonathan Benison meets with GCHS Board; commits to change ‘bingo rules’ to provide major support to save hospital

By: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher and Chair of GCHS Board of Directors

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The Board of Directors of the Greene County Health System (GCHS) Board met with Sheriff Jonathan Benison and his electronic bingo staff twice in the past three weeks, on August 25 and September 12, 2017 to urge him to take action to support the hospital, which is in danger of closing due to financial problems.
The GCHS Board submitted a letter to Sheriff Benison on August 30, 2017 placing in writing its suggestions to help the health care system in Greene County.
These suggestions included: collection of a 4% tax imposed on bingo machine operators, in June 2016, which has never been enforced or collected; raising the per machine fee, paid by bingo operators from $200 to $225 and giving those proceeds to support the GCHS on a monthly basis, and other steps to help the hospital become more financially self sufficient.
In the meeting, this week on September 12, 2017, Sheriff Jonathan Benison and his attorney Flint Liddon and bingo staff announced that he was going to change Section 4 of the electronic bingo rules to provide an additional $25 assessment, on all bingo machines, in all five bingo establishments, in Greene County, with the funds going to the Greene County Health System to support the hospital, nursing home, physicians clinic and other services.
This change will be instituted effective November 1, 2017 to allow the bingo establishments time to adjust their budgets and operations.

Currently, based on data provided by the Sheriff and his staff, there are 2,032 bingo machines at the five bingo establishments in Greene County which means that based on current numbers, the GCHS would receive $50,800 per month from the proceeds of this rule change. The Sheriff said that he thought that the number of bingo machines in the county would hold steady at around 2,000 or above.
This means that the GCHS could expect to receive $600,000 per year in support from electronic bingo in the county sanctioned under Constitutional Amendment 743.
Rosemarie Edwards, a Board member from the Boligee area, said, “I want to thank the Sheriff for his decision to increase the fee on each bingo machine by $25. This will help to keep the hospital open and provide needed medical services for Greene County residents. I hope people in the community will support the Sheriff in his new bingo rules.”
Eddie Austin, Board member from the Forkland area, indicated, “I know of a person, within the last week, whose life was saved and stabilized by the Greene County Hospital Emergency Room. We all need our hospital to stay open and offer quality services. I commend the Sheriff for responding to our pleas for support.”
Pinnia Hines, Board member from Eutaw and former employee said, “With the commitment from the Sheriff to change bingo rules and provide substantial support for the hospital, nursing home and associated services, we will have certainty and stability to keep the facilities open. I thank the Sheriff for his decisions and I urge the community to support and unify behind these necessary changes.”
In response to a question from the Board, about what the Sheriff will do if the bingo operators do not agree to and comply with his per machine fee rules changes, Sheriff Benison said, “ I hope they will agree but if they don’t, I will have no choice but to enforce the rules and close down those who do not pay the funds to support the hospital.” Hank McWhorter, the Sheriff’s Bingo Enforcement Officer pulled out some large pre-printed stickers, which would be attached to the doors of those bingo establishments that did not comply with the new rules changes.
Attorney Liddon stated, “We do not really know how much money is passing through these bingo machines but we are sure it is enough to meet the conditions of these rule changes. We know the operators will not like these changes and may cry out that they are too expensive, but the Sheriff is determined to go forward to make these changes to assist the hospital.”
John Zippert, Chair of the GCHS Board, said, “We welcome and support the Sheriff’s decision to raise the per machine fee by $25 to assist the Greene County Health System. This infusion of $50,000 a month will be a significant and substantial help to the facility to meet its deficit of $100,000 per month. Our monthly deficit is roughly equal to the ‘uncompensated care’ we provide to low-income people from Greene County each month.
“The Board and the people of Greene County we represent, thank the Sheriff for his rule change and support for the GCHS. The Board will work with the people to find the rest of the revenues and savings to erase the deficit. More Greene County people must use the GCHS facilities and services; we must fill the 20 vacant beds in our nursing home; we must fully utilize the three doctors and two nurse practitioners in the health clinic; we must fully utilize all the services of GCHS.
“Our Board will also seek support and contributions from other public and private sources, including the Greene County Commission, the State of Alabama, Medicare, Medicaid, private foundation grants and other support. We will also work for better state and national health policies which will treat rural people and facilities fairly and recognize our contribution to the nation’s health care status and the well-being of our people.”

Newswire : Kenya’s Supreme Court orders rematch of presidential election

eyeontherematch
Pres. U. Kenyatta criticizing Supreme Court Judge w Deputy Pres. W. Ruto at right.
(TriceEdneyWire.com/GIN) – To the surprise of many, Kenya’s supreme court overturned the country’s Aug. 8 presidential election, setting the stage for a rarely-seen voting rematch in Africa or anyplace.
In its ruling, the court concluded the election “was not conducted in accordance with the constitution,” rendering the declared results “invalid, null and void.”
Within the next 60 days, incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta will face his rival Raila Odinga—again.
Odinga had petitioned the court to overturn the result, claiming the electoral system was rigged in Kenyatta’s favor. Other irregularities included the torture and murder of a top election official, the deportation of two foreign Odinga advisers, agents being denied entry to polling stations, names missing from the register and electronic voter identification devices failing.
The successful petition could unleash a flood of new petitions from the thousands of candidates who lost other races on Aug 8. More than 14,000 candidates ran for about 1,900 electoral seats.
After pulling ahead from what was earlier described as a close race, President Kenyatta declared he would be willing to step down if he lost and called on Odinga to do the same.
“Let us accept the will of the people,” he said. “I am willing myself to accept the will of the people, so let them too, adding “in a true democracy, all Kenyans are winners.”
But he changed his tune after the court threw out the poll results, calling the judges “crooks” and reminding supporters that he is still the incumbent president.
“We shall revisit this thing. We clearly have a problem,” Kenyatta said, referring to the judiciary. “Who even elected you? Were you [elected]? We have a problem and we must fix it.” His lawyer said only a “third world court” would make such a decision.
Odinga for his part is going after the international election observers who endorsed the Aug. 8 poll. Some 400 election monitors from the African Union, the European Union, and the United States, including former US secretary of state John Kerry, called the vote “free, fair and credible.” Their views were widely echoed in the media.
After the high court came to the exact opposite conclusion, Odinga released a statement: “With this courageous verdict we put on trial the international observers who moved fast to sanitize fraud. Their role must be reexamined.”
Kenya’s Standard Digital online news site chimed in: The New York Times, they said, has found itself with egg on its face. Later, the Times owned up as did the Financial Times, hitting out at the international observers who approved the polls as free and credible.

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We must all work together to save our hospital and health services

News Analysis

Dr and Robert

Dr. Salahuddin Farooqui, MD attends patients on his rounds at Greene County Physicians Clinic

By: John Zippert, Co-Publisher and Chairperson of Board of Directors of Greene County Health System (GCHS)

We, the citizens and leaders of Greene County, must work together immediately and urgently to save our hospital (20 beds), nursing home (70 beds), physicians clinic, and home health services, which are grouped together as the Greene County Health Services. This is a public non-profit corporation, whose board of directors is selected by the Greene County Commission.
As a small rural hospital our future and finances have been clouded by the uncertainties surrounding Federal health care policy, the refusal of Alabama’s Governor and Legislature to expand Medicaid funding to the working poor, the low reimbursement rates for Medicaid and Medicare recipients and the high level of poor people in Greene County that we do not and cannot turn away for needed health care services.

GCHS needs your support to stay open.

Another problem, we have, is one that we are all responsible for and can solve. Many of us in Greene County do not use the health facilities and doctors at the GCHS like we should and must if the hospital is to be there when we have an emergency and need it most.
Our Emergency Room (ER), which is staffed 24/7 is available for emergency injuries and life threatening conditions at home, on the job and on the highway. Many Greene County residents and others on the Interstate Highway have been medically stabilized and their lives saved by the ER. Once they were stabilized, we were able to send them to other facilities, by ambulance or helicopter, for more intensive care and treatment.
A community that wants to grow and attract industry and jobs must have an operational health system or industry will pass us by. One of the first questions a prospective industry asks is whether there is a health facility, in the community, that can respond to safety concerns and emergencies for employees at their plants, offices and business locations. If we are forced to close the hospital, we will loose the chance for industrial development and we will loose the jobs of the people who work at the facilities.
We have twenty vacant beds in our Residential Care Facility (Nursing Home), which should be filled up. There are Greene County elderly in nursing facilities in other places who could be at home getting the same or better care closer to family and friends.
We also provide swing beds for Medicare 21 day rehabilitative hospital stays. You will receive the same services as in other facilities. We have trained physical, occupational, speech and other therapists and nurses on staff and you will be closer to home. It is up to you to insist upon returning to the GCHS facilities for health services even if other facilities are aggressively promoting you to go elsewhere.
The GCHS has faced tight financial times for many of the twenty-five years that I have served on the Board of Directors. In recent years, the financial pressures have mounted and the facility has no cash reserves. Our patient mix is one third Medicare, one third Medicaid, 5 to 10% Blue Cross-Blue Shield and 25% with no insurance or payment source.
The GCHS, as a small rural facility, we receive 65 cents for each dollar billed to Medicare; only 32 cents for each dollar billed to Medicaid; 75 to 80 cents for private insurance payers and nothing from people without insurance. Our Administrator says: “Our Medicaid reimbursement is like walking into a store and paying $1 for a $3 dollar gallon of milk. The store could not stay in business very long, but this is the way our health system operates.”
The GCHS is audited each year by an accounting firm that reports its results to the State of Alabama for approval. The accountants also prepare a cost report which is used by the Federal and state governments to determine reimbursement rates and “disproportionate share payments” to help cover deficits.
For the current fiscal year, for the 10 months from October 1, 2016 to July 31, 2017, the GCHS has a deficit of $894,227, about $90,000 per month after all direct and indirect revenues have been calculated. This deficit correlates with the $100,000 a month of “uncompensated care” the GCHS provides for very low income residents of Greene County, some of whom are “working poor people”, who have a minimum wage job but who do not have or qualify for insurance or a payer source.
The GCHS receives 1 cent of the 3-cent sales tax, which is received by Greene County on all retail sales in the county. This is generally $30 to $40,000 a month. Currently the GCHS has pledged these funds for ten years on a bond issue that generated $2.5 million to pay accumulated debts for the past five years of operations, including a $1.2 take-back by Medicaid for “over payments in past years”.

GCHS needs support from electronic bingo

The GCHS is currently receiving minimal support from “electronic bingo” in Greene County. When Amendment 743 was passed, support for the hospital was named as one of the major reasons for use of the charitable bingo contributions. For the past five years, the hospital and nursing home have only received minimal contributions from bingo and we were not included in the formula for use of the $200 fee per machine, which goes to support the Board of Education, County Commission, Sheriff’s office and four municipalities.
We have been discussing our financial situation and problems with Sheriff Joe Benison for five years. In June 2016, the Sheriff imposed a 4% tax on the companies that provide bingo machines in Greene County. This tax was supposed to generate $20,000 a month for the GCHS. Unfortunately, the Sheriff did not enforce his own regulations and none of these funds were paid to the hospital. For the 15 months since June 2016, the GCHS has not received the $300,000, this tax was supposed to generate.
On Friday, August 25, 2017, the GCHS Board of Directors met with Sheriff Benison to discuss our critical financial situation. We asked the Sheriff to collect the outstanding 4% tax that he imposed on machine operators and provide an immediate infusion of funds to the hospital. Secondly, we asked that he immediately, as of September 1, 2017, increase the base fee, on all machines, at all bingo parlors by $25.00 from $200 to $225, and provide that increase on a monthly basis to the health care system.
Based on a minimum of 300 machines in each of the 5 bingo establishments, this would generate $37,500 in new revenues, on a stable monthly basis, to help the hospital toward financial solvency and covering the cost of uncompensated care. We feel Greene County health services must be included in the basic fee formula per machine or in whatever basic revenue formula is developed for bingo. We really feel the gaming industry in Greene County can afford and must support our hospital and related health care facilities.
In our letter to Sheriff Benison, we gave him until this Friday, September 8, 2017, to give a positive response to our requests. This is a critical problem and we need the help of the Sheriff and the gaming industry in Greene County to help to do their part to solve this problem.
To summarize, we must all work together to save our Greene County Health System. The people of Greene County, Black and White, must use our facilities more, fill up our nursing home, use our laboratory testing, our rehabilitative services, our three doctors and two nurse practitioners at the clinic, our home health services, our mammogram machine, CT scanner and every service we have available.
Our community leaders including the Sheriff, County Commissioners, School Board, Mayors and City Councils, preachers and lay church leaders, civic organizations, and everyone in a leadership position in the community must help us save the hospital and health services so that they will be there when you need them.