At a short Nov. 25 meeting of the Wallowa County Health Care District board, hospital CEO Larry Davy used an overhead projector to outline budget cuts affecting the district if the Jan. 28 Oregon tax measure is not passed.

Davy noted that 25 of the 68 persons in Wallowa County now receiving long term funding under the Medicaid package will be displaced from the program. He anticipates not knowing where the cuts will be made - whether from the Wallowa Valley Care Center, foster homes or from assisted living situations - until mid-December. Medicaid is expected to reduce what is now 17 levels of long term care down to four levels.

Of some 558 medical conditions now being paid under the Oregon Health Plan in Wallowa County, the number will be reduced to 507, he said. Davy added that dental coverage will be cut from all 649 Oregon Health Plan qualifiers who live in the county.

The target date for these budget cuts is Feb. 1, 2003, or three days after the pivotal Jan. 28 income tax vote.

"A lot of services are going away," said Davy.

In other business the board voted to purchase a new dexabone densitometry machine designed primarily to aid physicians in the diagnosis of bone density in women. Early detection of osteoporosis can be made by the $48,900 machine. Davy described the purchase as a "fantastic deal" for the district because the machine was originally listed at $98,000.

In an effort to pay off the district's long term debt to Community Bank as early as possible the board voted to make a payment of $300,000 in December, compared to the required payment of less than $200,000.

The hospital's new inventory software which had been approved at an earlier meeting has been installed and is in use. The goal of the new software is to better track costs and supplies.

Because of the Christmas holiday the December board meeting will be held Dec. 16 instead of the usual fourth Monday of the month, which is Dec. 23.

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