Locking horns over health care in Moffat County

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— The staff at Memorial Hospital wants to keep people happy and healthy. So do leaders of Moffat County. The problem is that they each have different ideas about how that should be done.

The county is exploring the option of opening a health care clinic specifically for Moffat County employees and their families, and next Tuesday the Moffat County Commissioners will hear a recommendation to approve the contract vendor that will supply staffing for the new facility.

“When this whole idea came about, it was partly due to insurance because we were having some large claims in the county and found that it would be cheaper to go this route,” said County Commissioner Tom Mathers. “It’s something we’ve been working on for months and months now.”

Currently, the county pays $140 to $200 for an office visit, with employees footing $35 co-pays. The commissioners are hoping that the clinic will drive down costs and improve medical care in the community by providing competition.

The planned clinic is described as more of a “wellness center, as opposed to a physician’s office, and is geared toward preventative medicine and continuing care.

The facility would be open on weekends in order to provide greater accessibility for patients and create competition with clinics that close their doors for the weekend.

The entire price tag for the project will be around $200,000, but taxpayers have nothing to fear, Commissioner John Kincaid pointed out.

“This will cost the people of Moffat County zero dollars in taxes. All of the money is coming out of our insurance fund,” he said. “If it wasn’t cheap, we wouldn’t be doing it.”

Fears have circulated that local doctors and The Memorial Hospital will find themselves in a financial bind as patients turn elsewhere for medical care and pharmacies will lose business to the clinic dispensary.

“TMH asks the county commissioners to work with the local healthcare community to find an affordable, locally supported solution that will reduce the county's cost to provide health care and improve employees’ overall health and wellness. The Memorial Hospital's team has significant resources to offer and a desire for a true partnership that brings value to the county's employees and their dependents and allows the Moffat County Commissioners to meet their fiduciary responsibility to its citizens,” hospital CEO Joyce Hein said in a statement to the Craig Daily Press.

“This would be a totally new model of care for our area,” Dr. Pamela Kinder said. “I’m really not sure if there are enough county employees to support the model.”

The hospital’s board of trustees presented their concerns during Tuesday morning’s county commission meeting.

“Oh, the hospital’s pretty upset about it,” Mathers admitted. “They said what about the pharmacies? They said we’d be taking money out of the community. Well, if you go to Walgreens or Walmart to buy medicine it’s doing the same thing. That money doesn’t stay here.”

Mathers also said that the clinic would be a great boon to employees, being more convenient and efficient, as well as a non-taxable benefit. He asserted that the clinic would be more cost effective for Moffat County taxpayers who would no longer be supporting the more expensive insurance policy currently in use.

“I would hope that whatever direction the county decides to go, they’ll still be open to the idea of cooperation with the community,” Hein said.

A space for the clinic has already been secured, and the search for staff will likely begin as soon as a vendor is chosen.

Comments

Vermillion 1 year, 5 months ago

Really, Commissioner Kinkaid it costs the taxpayers nothing? The insurance fund is provided but taxpayers money. TMH is the county hospital. We should support our hospital Instead of competing with them. Government creating another bureaucracy, which will grow and cost taxpayers more money. A bad decision for TMH, it's clinic, our doctors, and the taxpayers of Moffat County.

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juju 1 year, 5 months ago

What about the costs involved in a facility, staffing, computers and software? Will medical care be provided by a physician or nurse practitioner? What is the commitment the commissioners are agreeing to? Where will such a clinic be housed? There was very little substance to this article concerning the actual costs involved. Rereading the commissioners meeting minutes for the last few months reveals no discussion about a special medical clinic for Moffat County Employees only as asserted by County Commissioner Tom Mathers. “It’s something we’ve been working on for months and months now.” In my opinion, there is very little transparency happening in this issue. For the county to undertake a start up business of this size, the taxpayers of Moffat County are due much more information.

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ronalex 1 year, 5 months ago

sounds like omba care going into competition with its self

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David Moore 1 year, 5 months ago

Something like obamacare will probably kill a program such as this, It is going to be hard enough for existing medical facilities and providers to survive anyway. A waste of our taxpayer dollars. I for one, a taxpayer, am not for this idea. The hospital is already owned by the county, why would you bring in something to compete with a county owned facility? It would be like road and bridge competing with the fairgrounds over plowing rights, it just does not make much sense.

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jennysr38 1 year, 5 months ago

This is the absolute most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Are you kidding me Moffat County? Don't you have better things to spend your time and money on? You better be prepared Moffat County residents. It doesn't seem to matter what the tax paying voters want. As history proves, they do what they want anyway.

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cory5611 1 year, 5 months ago

Thanks Mathers and Groub and Kinkaid for trying to pad your pockets more hey why don't we just open a Rehab to that way they can stay here for it next time oh wait that would take to much out of there funds the funds that we the taxpayers are forced to give them and they want more competition for the hospital the one we paid for how is that competition if only county employees can us it what maybe 200 people come on thats just like putting lipstick on a pig its still a pig

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melonie barrett 1 year, 5 months ago

These men and women who work for the county gets paid very well,BOOOHOOOO,a stupid thirty five dollar copay and you the county is complaining about that.Most of your employees do not go to the doctor every month.Just another way to move that money around that is just not there.:)

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davidbowieonwheels 1 year, 5 months ago

What Moffat county really needs I think, is a clinic for the clinic for the clinic for the clinic.

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