Because of changes in funding distribution from the Department of Public Health, the Clark County Health Department will no longer provide certain services to patients residing outside of the county.
The Clark County Board of Health unanimously approved an updated policy on serving patients from other counties at Thursday’s regular meeting. The changes will become effective Oct. 1.
Funding is based on the population of the service area, the poverty level and the tax funding generated by a 1.8-cent tax rate. Health Department Director Scott Lockard said the Clark County Health Department is currently providing services like breast and cervical cancer treatment that must be paid for, at least in part, by local tax dollars.
“For counties like us, that’s presenting a challenge,” Lockard said.
Overall, the Clark County Health Department has a net patient gain, meaning more patients come from out of county to seek services than leave the county.
According to the policy, breast and cervical cancer services and prenatal services will be provided for county residents only, and patients 21 and older must be residents to receive family planning services.
Lockard said he feared women under the age of 21 might not seek family planning services if they have to visit health departments in their home counties because of privacy issues.
All prenatal care is funded by local taxes.
“This is something we never would have thought of doing a couple years ago,”¿Lockard said.
If health departments in other counties cannot provide services, they can contract with the Clark County Health Department to assure that patients in those counties receive services, but the Clark Health Department would have to be compensated financially.
The policy change could save the Health Department $75,000-$100,000 per year.
“We supplement a lot with tax money,” Lockard said.
The goal is to provide the best service possible for Clark patients, who provide funding to the Health Department through their tax dollars.
The Health Department will continue to provide WIC services to any patient because funding is based on the number of patients seen, rather than block funding. Treatment and screening also will be provided for sexually transmitted diseases, as well as screening for tuberculosis, because of concerns for public health.¿
If a TB¿screening is positive, the Health Department will work with the patient to ensure services are provided in their home county.
Local health departments must operate under a “do or assure” model, which means even if the agency does not provide a service, they must assure that patients can find treatment and screening somewhere else.
Patients currently being seen for cervical and breast cancer will be able to continue their treatment in Clark County, regardless of residence, but no new patients will be enrolled.
“If we’ve started their treatment or started their services, we’ll follow them until they’re transitioned out,” Lockard said.
Clinical Services Director Anne Hatton estimated about 20 out-of-county patients are being treated for breast or cervical cancer, but there are no out-of-county prenatal patients. The cost of treatment for each patient varies, depending on the services provided.
All patients will be notified of the change as soon as possible.
Contact Rachel Parsons Gilliam at email@example.com.