Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters to the Editor, a chance for members of the community to comment on issues of concern to them. All letters must be original, not duplications of letters addressed to public officials or written by others. The views and opinions expressed are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication, its publishers, Editor, or staff.

To the Editor:
RE: Pine Crest

Ryan Hanson, Pine Crest Administrator (539-2532), told me he wouldn’t express his opinions, but he would provide me with facts. That’s what I wanted. Here’s what Ryan told me.
There are about 95 employees at Pine Crest, over 90% of whom live in Lincoln County.
The annual operating budget for Pine Crest is in the $12-13 million range. Revenue comes from Medicaid, insurance and Medicare, supplemental payments from the state (a complicated formula), and the tax levy.
The tax levy is $440,000 and constitutes less than 1/20 of total revenue.
Wages for employees take up over half of the annual budget (Ryan didn’t have an exact figure), but it’s at least $6 million.
Medicaid residents at Pine Crest constitute around 75% of total residents. Medicaid traditionally pays the least, usually under the actual cost of care, which is why private nursing facilities keep Medicaid residents down to 10-15%. (Over 90% of Pine Crest residents are from Lincoln County.)
North Central Health Care, which manages Pine Crest, pays the $650,000 annual debt on Pine Crest.
To sum up: For $440,000 annual tax levy, Lincoln County gets a nursing home with an annual budget exceeding $12 million, over half of which budget pays wages for nearly 100 employees, almost all of whom live (and spend) in Lincoln County. In addition, NCHC pays the $650,000 annual debt.
Who can honestly say that Lincoln County can’t afford Pine Crest?

– Paul Gilk
Merrill, Wis.

Letters To The Editor Policy:
*Letters must be 250 words or less. (There will be no exceptions to this. Any letter longer than 250 words will not be printed.)
*The writer must include their full name, complete address, and a phone number where he/she can be easily reached for verification. Phone numbers and street addresses will not be published, but will be used for verification purposes, if necessary. Letters must be signed and the name, city, and state will be printed.
*Letters may be edited for style, grammar, and length. Form letters or those we determine to be libelous or slanderous will not be accepted. Any letter deemed derogatory, inflammatory, or involving vulgar language will not be published. We reserve all rights to reject material submitted to this publication.
*Letters will be published on a “first come, first served” basis. Any letters which we are unable to publish in the printed newspaper may be run online at www.merrillfotonews.com and/or may be printed in the paper at a later date.
*In fairness to all, and due to space constraints, there is a limit of two letters per year from an individual writer. Additional letters may be submitted to our Paid Letters to the Editor column and will require payment in full prior to publication at the same rate as Political Letters to the Editor (see policy below).

Political Letters To The Editor Policy:
All letters submitted as an endorsement for a political candidate, referendum, or political agenda will carry the same guidelines as above; however, they will be charged $40.00 per letter of up to 250 words in length. Longer political letters will be accepted but will be charged $10.00 per additional 100 words. All political letters must be prepaid prior to printing. Letters to the Editor will not be accepted from candidates running for election or representatives of an organization endorsing their own referendum, as these are clearly advertisements and not opinion letters; those submissions will be referred to our Advertising Department to be run as paid ads.

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