Vote Early for Prop. 1 - Including at Seton Sites

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From the presidential race to Proposition 1, Central Health’s tax proposal to support a new teaching hospital and medical school, the Nov. 6 election ballot provides voters the chance to make a difference when it comes to local health care.

But starting today, you don’t have to wait 15 more days to vote.

And starting Tuesday, you can even vote at Seton hospitals (PDF). Mobile voting sites will rotate over 11 specific days to seven hospitals, from Seton Williamson to Seton Hays.

Early voting elsewhere in Travis County began at 7 a.m. Oct. 22 at 23 locations, including a new “mega voting” site at Highland Mall. Hours vary as to when early voting sites are open. More information can be found at the Travis County elections website.

“In what will likely result in a significant impact on Texas hospitals, the upcoming election poses a unique opportunity on the state and national levels to affect the future of health care policy,” noted a recent message from the Texas Hospital Association.

In Travis County, Proposition 1 is the proposal to fund or further support an array of health care initiatives by Central Health, the county’s health care district. Among them is the proposal to replace University Medical Center Brackenridge with a new, 21stcentury teaching hospital.

Proposition 1 is placed near the bottom of a lengthy Travis County ballot. Voters are being cautioned that, if they opt to vote “straight party” tickets at the top of the ballot, make sure to scroll through to Proposition 1 and other local ballot measures, including 18 City of Austin proposals.

The exact wording for Proposition 1 is as follows:

Approving the ad valorem tax rate of $0.129 per $100 valuation in Central Health, also known as the Travis County Healthcare District, for the 2013 tax year, a rate that exceeds the district’s rollback tax rate. The proposed ad valorem tax rate exceeds the ad valorem tax rate most recently adopted by the district by $0.05 per $100 valuation; funds will be used for improved healthcare in Travis County, including support for a new medical school consistent with the mission of Central Health, a site for a new teaching hospital, trauma services, specialty medicine such as cancer care, community-wide health clinics, training for physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals, primary care, behavioral and mental healthcare, prevention and wellness programs, and/or to obtain federal matching funds for healthcare services.

In an email to Seton associates, Sister Helen Brewer, vice chair of Seton Healthcare Family’s board of trustees, noted that Proposition 1 will add approximately $100 per year to the property tax bill of the average Travis County home, valued at $215,000 — or less than $9 per month.

“The extra resources to expand primary and secondary care for the needy, as well as cutting-edge research and innovation brought about by the new UT medical school, will make a substantial difference in overall health — for everyone,” she said. “It will allow us to enhance and expand our mission in a sustainable way for the long term.”

Sister Helen noted that Proposition 1 will provide nearly $100 million for “much-needed care models demonstrated to transform and improve care” in Travis County.

“I hope you will become ambassadors, encouraging your neighbors, family and friends to vote for Proposition 1,” she said.

The Austin Chronicle endorsed Proposition 1 last Thursday. The Austin American-Statesman did the same on Sunday.

“Of all the choices on the Nov. 6 ballot, an affirmative vote for Proposition 1 will have the longest lasting impact,” the Statesman editorial stated. “Presidents and other elected officials come and go, but a medical school will be producing physicians and spurring research, reaping benefits that we can’t foresee or even imagine.”

There is more information at I Back a new Brack. Early voting ends Friday, Nov. 2.

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