October 4, 2017
Consider this: Central Health funded health care for more than 1 in 10 Travis County residents last year – providing vital services to people who are low-income and uninsured. The people we serve are friends, neighbors, co-workers and family from myriad cultures. Some live in established Austin neighborhoods, while economics have pushed some out to farther reaches of the county. Others have ended up on the street. They bear extraordinary burdens as they make their way on buses to the second of three jobs they hold down, and then back home, where they take care of extended family and struggle to get by.
Regardless of where you are in life, everything we do is aimed at keeping the people we serve healthy. And it all begins with a budget.
I want to thank the Travis County Commissioners’ approval of Central Health’s FY 2018 tax rate and budget. Central Health’s tax rate of 10.7385 cents per $100 of property value is the lowest tax rate of any major urban Texas hospital district. With our $237 million budget approved, we’re ready to move forward with important initiatives including expanding services in eastern Travis County; improving women’s health care services; improving health care benefits to keep people healthy and out of the hospital; reducing wait times for appointments, and improving the overall patient experience.
Central Health primarily serves Travis County residents living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. For a family of four, that’s less than $49,200 in annual income. Last fiscal year, we funded care for more than 143,000 patients, and we’ve doubled the amount of primary care visits we were able to provide 10 years ago. The result is our patients’ emergency room visits remained stable even while Travis County’s population of low-income residents increased.
As the tax-funded public entity created by voters in 2004, providing health care is more than a requirement under state law, it’s the passion of the board of managers and more than 200 employees with Central Health and the Community Care Collaborative, our partnership with the Seton Healthcare Family. The Central Health board funds health care in clinics, hospitals, and through mobile teams. In addition to health care, Central Health supports prevention and wellness services such as exercise and nutrition classes so people have a chance for healthier lives.
Central Health collaborates with partners such as Seton Healthcare Family, Dell Medical School at the University of Texas, CommUnityCare Health Centers, Planned Parenthood, People’s Community Clinic and many more. Central Health funds health care at nearly 200 locations in Travis County, including hospitals, clinics and local nonprofits. We’re proud to report 96 cents of every dollar we spend goes toward health care delivery; we spend less than 4 cents per dollar on administrative costs.
Looking forward, we will continue with performance reviews and increased community engagement as we improve how we operate, and increase transparency of Central Health’s finances. We will continue to work with our partners in evaluating how best to serve people who are low income and uninsured.
This work includes putting more resources to the geography of health – how we bring health care to people. Fiscally, the strategy will be one of sustainability over the long haul. To account for how we spend funds, our audits, reviews, and budget materials are all available online. We are also committed to increasing the number of community forums where we talk about how we do what we do. Ultimately, we will ensure that tax dollars are spent in a manner consistent with our mission and the law, and that future reports illustrate how the people we serve benefit.
Central Health takes seriously our obligation to deliver what voters have asked and residents deserve. After all, a healthier community is a stronger community.
-Mike Geeslin, President & CEO