by Victor Lopez
MARTIN COUNTY-- A large state deficit has forced Texas lawmakers to put massive budget cuts into action, with education taking a major hit, but not everyone is suffering.
A proposed house bill sponsored by former Speaker Tom Craddick could bring financial relief for small community hospitals.
The bill doesn't provide for anything new. It just makes the process a little easier.
"Lamesa has the same issues, Colorado City, Iraan, all of the small hospitals have the same issues," Martin County Hospital Administrator, Paul McKinney, said.
The Texas Organization of Community and Rural Hospitals thought of the idea and got Speaker Craddick to sponsor it. House Bill 850, if passed, will allow hospitals, in communities of 50,000or less, to buy equipment and not go broke doing it.
"Instead of paying cash for it and depleting our cash reserves or financing it through the vendor, we can now go through the banks, get cheaper rates and pay it off quicker. It just helps us manage our money a little bit better," McKinney explained.
Depending on the equipment, prices run from $50,000 to $100,000 or more. Many hospitals can't spend that kind of money and hope to make it to the end of the year.
According to McKinney, "This option is going to help us a great deal."
The loan application works like any other. Administrators go to the bank of their choice and talk terms with their potential lender.
Martin County can still benefit from House Bill 850, even though they recently passed a $22 million hospital bond.
"All of the equipment for the new Martin County Hospital has been included in the price of the bond. But, if this House Bill passes, it would make it possible for them order new equipment, if they ever need to," McKinney said. "We won't access this type of loan until we get passed the building of the new hospital, any new equipment after that point."
In a time when budget cuts are the talk of the town, House Bill 850 won't cost the state a single dime.
Another reason, McKinney says, it makes sense to pass it, "It's buying into our future, for the future of all small hospitals. If they can get by with no funding to them, it's a no brainer. It should not be an issue at all, for them to support it."