The Clark County Board of Health approved a $4.8 million budget at Thursday’s meeting, electing to use $165,000 in reserve funds to cover revenue shortages.
Clark County Health Department Director Scott Lockard presented two draft budgets to board members, one relying on reserve funds to cover expenses and one making up the deficit through staff reductions.
“We’re going to use reserves and monitor attrition and see how it goes,”¿Lockard said. “We’re going to evaluate it closely at our September meeting.”
Because of changes to state and federal funding guidelines, Clark County will lose approximately $500,000 in grant money this year. The state has fewer federal dollars to distribute, and did away with funding for specific programs. Instead, money will come through a Community Health Block Grant, which gives money in lump sums and allows health departments to determine how much to allocate to programs.
“We lost $90,000 just through that one change,” Lockard said.
The state also plans to use a county’s poverty level and tax base to determine funding, which also will translate into fewer government dollars for Clark County. The Health Department expects to generate about $1.7 million in tax revenue this year.
Recent changes to the Medicaid system are plaguing health departments across the state. Medicaid is now paid through a managed care organization, and some services previously covered are now denied, Lockard said. Administrative problems have resulted in a lag in payments, and Lockard said the Health Department is waiting on payments for services rendered in November.
“The net result is we’re seeing a reduction in payments to the Health Department and Home Health that traditional Medicaid paid for. We’re having to readjust,”¿Lockard said.
The Health Department plans to continue offering the same level of services as before, and Lockard said Clark County is lucky to have a large enough reserve to help make up for the lost funds.
“We’re on solid enough financial footing that we can do that,” Lockard said.
The Board of Health and Health Department staff plan to monitor the budget throughout the year to see if any changes are necessary.
“The bottom line is, we don’t want to see patients going without services,”¿Lockard said.
Health board members discussed possible staff reductions or mandatory furlough days before approving the final budget. Lockard said he is not in favor of furlough days because clinical staff are needed in office to make sure all services are provided, and to generate revenue.
The budget calls for cuts in nearly every area, including janitorial services and paper supplies.
“We’re looking closely at every line item,” Lockard said. “As of now, we’re projecting no work force reductions.”
Contact Rachel Gilliam at email@example.com.