Moffat County Commissioners approved a new health care clinic in Craig on Tuesday, which will be located at 551 Tucker St. The house at one time was used as a dentist office and later turned into a health clinic for war veterans. Every bedroom is equipped with a sink, making it a good fit for a health care clinic, according to county officials.

Photo by Andie Tessler

Moffat County Commissioners approved a new health care clinic in Craig on Tuesday, which will be located at 551 Tucker St. The house at one time was used as a dentist office and later turned into a health clinic for war veterans. Every bedroom is equipped with a sink, making it a good fit for a health care clinic, according to county officials.

Moffat County Commissioners approve free health care clinic in Craig

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— Moffat County’s commissioners approved a new health care clinic Tuesday, paving the way for vendor Care Here to open a free clinic in Craig for Moffat County government employees and their families.

The purpose of the clinic is to give Moffat County employees a different option for basic health care needs and to save the county money, Human Resources Director Lynette Running said.

“Many employees don’t want to take time off work, pay the co-pay and go see their doctor,” Running said, noting that a free clinic with night and weekend hours might entice county employees to take better care of their health. “We have several employees that won’t even go to the doctor.”

Not everyone agrees with the new clinic. Some in the community have expressed concern that it will take business away from The Memorial Hospital and local doctors. Another concern is that the clinic is limited to a certain group of people, Craig resident Neil McCandless said.

“The main concern is that it’s only for county employees, and it’s not helping the health needs for the community,” he said. “A lot of people who don’t have insurance won’t be able to go there. You take part of the business away from the hospital clinic — it’s certainly going to feel the effect, I think.”

Running hopes that it actually will create business for the hospital and local doctors because those who go to the clinic for preventative care and find that they have a particular ailment will then be referred to the hospital or local doctors for further care.

The new health care clinic is an option the county has been evaluating for the past year to reduce costs and improve the health of its workers. The county outlined several of its reasons for opening the clinic:

• Moffat County has a high-cost, self-insured insurance plan, and the plan pays dollar for dollar for all of its employees’ medical bills up to $80,000 per person.

• Care Here clinic will have one doctor or a physician’s assistant and one nurse. It also will provide free 20-minute examinations and cover the costs of lab fees, generic prescriptions and health risk assessments.

• The annual clinic costs are estimated at $214,138, which includes initial set up, supplies and the cost to operate the facility. Currently, the county pays roughly $117 per person for a private-sector doctor’s office visit. The average cost for an office visit to the free clinic comes to $85.79 per person for the county.

• The free clinic does not push additional costs on to taxpayers. It’s funded out of the county’s Health and Welfare fund.

“We’re spending this money whether we have a clinic or not,” Running said to the commissioners. “It’s preventative care for employees.”

All three commissioners were supportive of the clinic.

“I like the fact that we’re using the free market to save money,” Commissioner John Kinkaid said.

The county recently bought a three-bedroom house at 551 Tucker St. for $99,900. The house at one time was used as a dentist office and later turned into a health clinic for war veterans. Every bedroom is equipped with a sink, making it good fit for a health care clinic, Running said.

The property was purchased for county offices or for county services, Running said, adding that it will now house the free health care facility.

“After Obamacare kicks in, when everyone has (health insurance), you’re going to find it hard to get into (private sector) clinics,” Commissioner Tom Mathers said. “I just know that this is the new way that people are going to get health care. To me, the initial thing is an education process. Everyone needs to get all the facts.”

The county also highlighted that it expects to see a return on investment after the first 18 months.

“We’re estimating somewhere between $250,000 to $300,000 in savings over a three-year period,” Running said, noting that those saving would occur after the clinic expenses have been deducted.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Commissioner Chuck Grobe said.

Noelle Leavitt Riley can be reached at 970-875-1790 or nriley@craigdailypress.com

Comments

jamcolo 1 year, 2 months ago

Socialism for Moffat county employees health care needs capitalism for the rest of us Moffat county residents.

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Joanna Hatten 1 year, 2 months ago

This is absolutely wrong!! I'm sorry that county employees don't want to take time out their busy day and pay a copay.....guess what?? The REST of Moffat county does...why are county workers different from OTHER TAX PAYING MOFFAT COUNTY CITIZENS?? This should have been out to a vote....not a Ms.Running and county commissioners vote....as they all ARE COUNTY EMPLOYEES...of course they want this DUH!!! They work for the county!! The commissioners AND Ms. Running should lose their jobs over this!! Absolutely ridiculous!!

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lonelyone 1 year, 2 months ago

I think this is very wrong of the county to do. I don't like my copay either and I can tell you it is way more that 35 dollars and my husband doesn't like taking time off from work to go to the Dr either. And then there is the fact that I thought this was some how going to be housed at the court house so they didn't have to actually take time off from work to go?? Um, let's see, a house on Tucker means leaving your job to go get checked out. Might as well go to a regular clinic! This is not money well spent and I think the three of you guys should be ashamed of yourselves for approving this.

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michael lausin 1 year, 2 months ago

i wonder if they got the mold problem under control. i heard that one of the reasons the veteran's cboc was moved was because of mold.

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Noelle Leavitt Riley 1 year, 2 months ago

I understand that the community has various opinions on this issue, but the Craig Daily Press reserves the right to remove derogatory comments. Sincerely, Noelle Leavitt Riley - managing editor of the Craig Daily Press.

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Joanna Hatten 1 year, 2 months ago

I had to read this article again just to make sure I understood it.....it made me even more nauseous the second time. I hope every tax paying citizen in Moffat county calls each one of the commissioners AND Ms. Running and voice their opinion on this....I will!!! I tried to contact Ms. Running today but was told she was not available. Maybe she was waiting her turn at the doctors office.....LIKE THE REST OF US!!

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wickedstepmother 1 year, 2 months ago

The key words are "the counties Health and Welfare fund". Are county health and welfare funds for the county employees or for the counties' citizens who need "health and welfare assistance? I am sure that all county employees have a above poverty level income. As for the reasoning of having to take time off to see a doctor, paying copays, and nights and weekends hours: This would eliminate the need for "sick days", and a serious injury or illness could be covered by short term disability. Copays at the "Free Clinic" would be necessary by the second year for running a facility with night hours and weekends and the employees would still have to leave the building they work in and go to a separate facility for healthcare from which they will be referred out to specializing physicians, sounds like a primary doctor to me. Is the County Commission setting up a "business arrangement" with Care Here where everyone (Moffat County employees and Care Here) who works for or is related to someone who works for the County may get free healthcare at a profit to both?

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lostyermarbles 1 year, 2 months ago

Maybe they should just review their employees time off . This is the silliest thing yet the county commissioners have approved. and Lynette should maybe confir with the powerplants and mines which employee far more on how they are managing copays I Dont know of any working person that doesnt have this in their life.$35 is far less than the visit and less than eating out or even filling up a toy gas tank. Maybe some time management and if they have that much copay and medical some tax deduction education. You are making the whole bunch sound handicapped. Maybe the VNA would make on the site visits if they cant figure it out.

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WTF 1 year, 2 months ago

I believe the term "free" clinic is not the best of terms. It is not free. The county is putting a medical staff on salary, and providing office space. The intent is not profit. A for profit clinic would defeat the purpose of lowering the county's self paid health insurance. Weekend and night hours do not effected a salaried medical staff. The fact that profit is cut out is what lowers the over all cost. It seems to be a more effective way to spend public money that was going to be spent on health care one way or another. If TMH fells this is a threat to their business, then they need to lower costs to be competeive; therefore lowering county wide health care cost.

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WTF 1 year, 2 months ago

I believe the term "free" clinic is not the best of terms. It is not free. The county is putting a medical staff on salary, and providing office space. The intent is not profit. A for profit clinic would defeat the purpose of lowering the county's self paid health insurance. Weekend and night hours do not effected a salaried medical staff. The fact that profit is cut out is what lowers the over all cost. It seems to be a more effective way to spend public money that was going to be spent on health care one way or another. If TMH feels this is a threat to their business, then they need to lower costs to be competeive; therefore lowering county wide health care cost.

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hixinstix 1 year, 2 months ago

No need for anyone to be offended that Moffat County employees have access to this clinic..they would have had access to clinics of one sort or another, anyway. What is offensive is that the Commissioners have deliberately engaged in competing against themselves. A county-owned hospital is present in Craig and there is NO need to bring in Care Here. If the County had the ability to negotiate properly in the first place, their co-pays would not have been so high. Why not co-op with other large employers in the area to lower insurance premiums?

As far as co-pays go, this new program will likely increase co-pays. Sure, the employees and dependents get "free" care at the clinic, but many will need to access other areas in healthcare(radiology, emergency department, operating rooms etc). Will this new program require an increased co-pay amount then because these modalities fall outside the "in network" of the new clinic? What about prescriptions that are ineffective as generics(synthroid etc)?

How will Moffat County calculate the ROI and cost savings of this clinic? Have the increased premiums/costs previously incurred because of employee health claims or because of dependents health claims? How will Moffat County measure any perceived change in employee productivity as a result of the clinic?

Will the clinic also be used for pre-employment screening? For statutory drug testing? For DOT physicals?

It's alleged that the clinic will be open evenings and weekends......how will the clinic be adequately staffed with this type of schedule?

This clinic IS a threat to TMH and the rest of the medical community. It's not a matter of those entities lowering their costs to be competitive......it's about the County deliberately stepping in to cause financial harm to them.

Will the new clinic be subject to COBRA requirements? Will services be offered to County retirees after they leave county employment? I wonder if part of the problem with the increased premiums and costs isn't more likely attributed to an aging County workforce that typically requires more medical and pharmaceutical intervention.

In the end, I find the Commissioners move atrocious and encourage voters to ensure they are not elected for their next terms.

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WTF 1 year, 2 months ago

Albeit I am not an economist; however, a clinic limited to county employees and dependents, cannot compete in an open market. They are limited in function, and by customer base. If TMH cannot compete with a clinic that cannot expanded its patient base without the county adding job, maybe they need not be in business. Maybe, just maybe, they need more of marketing strategy they “hey we’re on the hill.”

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hixinstix 1 year, 1 month ago

One doesn't have to be an economist.......the county clinic DOES compete in an open market simply by removing around 400 people from using the other free market providers(TMH, clinics etc). Are you saying that 400 people is an insignificant change? The county commissioners have now placed themselves in direct competition with.......themselves. Pure genius.

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