Boots & Sabers

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0745, 18 Apr 23

Selling Samaritan

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I think the decision regarding Samaritan was a tough one, but they got it right.

In the end, the decision was really about whether or not the county, and the county taxpayers, want to be in the business of running a long-term care facility. At one time there were over 100 county-run long-term facilities in Wisconsin. Now there are only 35. The private sector fills this care needs of elderly folks throughout the state and can leverage economies of scale that a single county cannot match.


For Washington County to continue to run Samaritan, they would need to figure out how to make the math work. They could try something like building out a private care facility in the unused space to subsidize the deficits, but that would put the county government in direct competition with several private care facilities in the county. Or the County Board could just accept that Samaritan would run at a loss and the county taxpayers would have to cover the difference in perpetuity. At a cost ranging into the tens of millions of dollars, this would be an expensive obligation that draws funds from other county obligations.


By voting to sell Samaritan, the County Board is seeking to protect county taxpayers from significant financial obligations while allowing a private company to bring significant resources to bear on behalf of the residents. All things considered, the County Board made the best choice.


0745, 18 April 2023


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