County health board passes 2014 budget; discusses Obamacare
The Barry County Health Board took action last Thursday night to pass the department's 2014 budget in a cloud of uncertainty over how implementation of current federal health care laws will affect the department.
"If everything goes according to plan and everyone has insurance, we don't know for sure how that's going to affect us. If I have insurance, why go to the health department? I'm going to go to a doctor. How many people are going to do that? We just don't know" said Roger Brock, administrator for the health department.
John Starchman, board president, expressed his concern during the discussion about the uncertainty of how coverage under the act will handle services currently being provided by the department.
"We haven't any idea what the new health act is going to agree to cover, said Starchman. "So there's a really huge issue right there. They may say, 'We're not going to cover vaccinations at all at the doctor's office. You're going to have to go to the local authorities and get them done through the federally-subsidized program', that may happen, we just don't know."
Nancy Boyd, administrative assistant, was heavily involved in putting together the materials for next year's budget. She acknowledged the unpredictability of the situation and explained the conventional manner in which the budget was prepared.
"With this budget, we were trying to be very realistic. To see a big impact in 2014 - we're not really looking for one," said Boyd. "We were just being very conservative, very cautious,"
Starchman continued to express his concerns about the potential demand that may arise once the act is put into place. Brock offered an explanation on the steady approach adopted by staff when the budget documents were prepared.
"There's a lot of questions about what's going to happen and we just don't know," said Brock. "I wish we had a better answer, but I think our best approach is to keep everything in sync with where we are right now and see where it goes after this first year and all of the changes that they'll be making."
"We'll just going to have to very careful on a monthly basis," said Starchman who reiterated the need for monitoring the situation as it occurs and finding a way to handle the potential demand that may arise.
The board passed the 2014 budget following the discussion. The increase from the current year's budget was less than a percent.
In other business, the health board:
Appointed Jim Brasel to the board to fill the position left vacant by Stormy Pierpont when she moved out of the county.
Set a date of January 9 for the public hearing on revisions to the wastewater ordinance. This meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and it will be held at the FEMA Event Center.
Changed the renewal date for medical coverage from August 2014 to December 2013. This change was requested to help the department realize a savings in coverage costs based upon substantial anticipated increases that will take place in August.
Voted to maintain a temperature of 140 degrees for hot hold foods in light of changes to the food code that would have allowed the department to decrease the requirement by five degrees. The board also set March 1, 2014, as the date when the additional changes to the code would go into effect. This date was suggested to give vendors in the community an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments to their operations.