Community Clinic Funding (changing focus for the better)
One Commissioner said, “if it’s not broken don’t fix it. I want to know more about the funding before changing it.” And at that moment in the summer of 2000 most Commissioners agreed. So why did Janice want to change the funding process? Partially, fairness, some of the clinics were carrying the heaviest load of providing services to those individuals that are uninsured. Also, a new funding source may bring on new service providers with the potential of newer approaches. The present system (block grants to the existing clinics) became routine and were looked at by the clinic operators as guaranteed dollars year after year. And probably the number one motivator was—Janice believed, that dollars spent would purchase more services, and that new dollars would be made available by motivating clinics to start signing up uninsured individuals into programs like MN care, for example.
And after a year of hard work by Public Health staff, lead by Director, Health Policy & Planning, Jane Norbin, a new funding process was introduced. The goals considered in developing the proposal were: primary prevention of public health problems; provide initial medical, dental or mental health care while assessing for eligibility for government and private insurance programs; prevent unnecessary emergency room use and hospitalization (due to lack of early intervention of medical problems); and, address the County priority of access to health care for uninsured.
"Such a major change will take two years to implement. For contracts beginning 1/1/2001, the changes will start with data collection in order to improve on our ability to analyze the use of County funding for uninsured individuals," Norbin outlined. Continuing, "every effort will be made to ensure that persons eligible for medical assistance will have opportunities to enroll. And as part of our Public Health responsibility we are asking cooperation of the clinics in cases of public disaster."
According to Norbin, “they will be recommending more substantive changes to the 2002 contracts. Partial reimbursements will be based on visits by uninsured individuals." Norbin concluded, "the clinics are interested in the details (how it works and impacts them) and are willing to work with the County as 2001 progresses."
Janice applauded all the hard work that was done by Ms. Norbin and her team. To Janice the key to the change is making sure that everyone that is eligible for some insurance program, public or private, partial or full coverage, are identified and enrolled. "This approach will lessen the property tax payers’ burden. That is a big win for the County," Janice said.
Author: Commissioner Rettman's Office / Information Services