By Beth Bily
Itasca County will further investigate the potential costs of IMCare before making any decision on assuming its financial risk.
At last week’s meeting of the County Board, officials approved forming a sub-committee that will examine the viability of the county-based purchasing program, which serves as a pass-through for medical assistance-eligible patients.
The board must make a decision on the program’s future after Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital and Bigfork Valley Healthcare both gave the county a 120-day notice that they would no longer assume the financial risk of the program. Local healthcare has assumed the financial risk since 1982, however, healthcare executives now assert that the risk is greater due to factors over which they have no control. Such factors include declining reimbursements and an increased number of enrollees.
Commissioners Davin Tinquist and Leo Trunt will serve on the sub-committee as will county staff. Officials plan to name two citizen members to the committee at a later date.
The board also authorized a third-party assessment of IMCare. Board Chair Terry Snyder said that having an outside firm look into the matter would increase transparency and help with public perception. “I feel it would be healthier to hire an outside person or company to actually investigate the issue – the risk piece of IMCare,” he said.
The board must make a decision on assuming the pass-through funding program’s future by mid-May. If the board decides against assuming the risk, the administration of funding for those who qualify for medical assistance would likely go to a third-party.
In other business, the board:
• Approved payment of warrants in the amount of $570,001.80.
• Approved Health and Human Services warrants in the amount of $1,645,096.21.
• Passed a resolution requesting the state live up to its 50 percent financial commitment for county probation officer salaries.
• Conducted a legislative conference call with Loren Solberg, county lobbyist.
• Approved a land transfer request from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the purpose of providing winter habitat for deer.