Neighborcare Health responds to claims

It is wrong to conflate the proposed hospital district with Neighborcare Health.

On Oct. 9, The Beachcomber published a letter about the hospital district vote, and an advertisement from the “Vote No” Proposition 1 campaign, which both included misleading information about Neighborcare Health.

As that letter and the ad noted, Neighborcare Health receives substantial grant funds, awarded through competitive applications. We are committed to using grant funds for the purpose intended or restricted. This includes our federal funding, of which the Vashon primary care clinic receives a prorated portion in keeping with its purpose and requirements. Of our local funding, administered by (not given from) Public Health – Seattle and King County, the vast majority is funded by taxation of Seattle residents to support care and programs in the city. But where local grant funding can or should be applied to Vashon Island, it is, such as the school-based program.

The letter to The Beachcomber asserts that Neighborcare Health made a profit in 2018. We did have net income, but a good portion of that was capital campaign funding coming in for facility expenses incurred in the previous year. This cannot truly be said to be a profit, as it simply covers an earlier expense. In addition, the net income was not $4 million, as the letter asserted, but about $1.8 million including the capital funding. The letter also notes that Neighborcare Health has substantial reserves, but this too is misleading. Of Neighborcare Health’s reserves, the majority percentage is an amount being held to repay the state for overpayment, in an ordinary reconciliation process.

Neighborcare Health cannot spend grant funds for purposes other than their intended use. Payment for expenses already incurred is not profit and money held for repayment to another entity is not discretionary. The reserves we do maintain are for emergencies and necessary infrastructure investments, and not to exhaust for ongoing operations. No one can rely on its savings to pay daily expenses indefinitely without financial ruin. We all, ultimately, need to live within our means.

These facts have been shared previously, but misleading claims and partial truths persist. They do an injustice to an organization that has provided care for hundreds of thousands of low-income and uninsured patients for over 50 years. And they do a disservice to the residents of Vashon, who deserve the means to make a fully-informed choice.

It is wrong to conflate the proposed hospital district with Neighborcare Health. If a hospital district is approved, Neighborcare Health will not decide what to do with the resulting funds. It is not even assured funding at all. Those decisions – should they come to pass – will be made by your own neighbors elected by you to serve as commissioners.

— Joseph Sparacio

Chief development officer, Neighborcare Health


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