Welcome back to the Schor Blog. Sorry for the two week delay!
First, a political note: I invite everyone to my next fundraiser for my State Representative campaign. It is tomorrow (Thursday) from 5:30 - 7:30 at the home of Commissioner Penelope Tsernoglou and Steve Ross at 1197 Prescott in East Lansing. For more details, go to www.andyschor.com.
Now, on to the County Issues...
At the Board meeting, we were given our Controller Recommended Budget. After months of hearing budget projections, meetings with countywide elected officials and department heads at the County, and discussions of direction for staff to take in drafting a budget we now have a starting document. And because our Controller is the best in the state (nation? world?), this is likely going to be very close to the final product. We will now start on budget discussions, with each committee holding budget hearings and the Finance committee (which I chair) putting it all together and recommending a final product for the Board to consider in October. Should be an interesting few months as we solve a $5.5 million budget deficit.
At the Board meeting, we passed several important resolutions. One resolution we passed authorizes a Public Health Service Agreement for 2011-2012 with the Ingham
Health Plan Corporation (IHPC). For those that don't know, we contract with the IHPC to provide public health services to low income residents of Ingham County. The IHPC amount this year is for services up to $2,603,118. The services include:
- Public Health Nursing
- Adult Dental
- Outreach and Enrollment
- Support for the Ingham Community Health Center Network
The Ingham Health Plan is a tremendous success in providing health care to the uninsured. If you are unfamiliar, go to www.ingham.org and follow the page to the Health Department and you can get all the info. I am very proud of this program and our support for it.
We also transferred funds to the State of Michigan for the purpose of supporting
Disproportionate Share Hospital (DHS) payments to Ingham Regional Medical Center and Sparrow Health System. The federal government allows for an “Indigent Care Agreements Pool” for hospitals which qualify for Medicaid Disproportionate Share (“DSH”)payments and allows them to receive DSH payments under the Indigent Care Agreements Pool so long as: (a) the hospital had an Indigent Care Agreement with a local health care entity, such as Ingham Health Plan Corporation; and (b) the Indigent Care Agreement stipulated that direct or indirect health care services be provided to low-income patients with special needs who are not covered under other public or private health care programs. Both Ingham Regional Medical
Center and Sparrow Health are qualified to receive these special payments.
The Ingham Health Plan Corporation was created in 1998 as a non-profit corporation for the purposes of promoting, arranging, and managing an effective system of health care in a manner which decreases the cost of health care services to the community at large and persons unable to pay for such care. The Corporation also supports certain public health services which are directed at low-income, uninsured persons, including services delivered by the Ingham County Health Department. We transferred up to $3.8 million for the year from the Health Fund to support Disproportionate Share Hospital Payments to Ingham Regional Medical Center and Sparrow Health System.
The Board also passed a resolution calling on the State Legislature to oppose efforts to make Michigan a right-to-work state. After hearing that other counties were providing resolutions (both for and against), we decided Ingham County should weigh in to ensure that our legislators and our countywide association know the opinions of the elected commissioners of Ingham County. There was no discussion on the Board floor, and the resolution passed on a 13-2 vote. The resolution (and all others) can be read here.
We passed a resolution to form a special committee to look at hiring a new Health Director. Unfortunately, our Health Director - Dean Sienko - is retiring. He has been tremendous as a Health Director, and will be missed. We have a world class Health Department due to his leadership, and he will be hard to replace. The task force has a tough job ahead of them. We are also going to have to replace the director of the Potter Park Zoo. We learned that Gerry Brady is retiring and we will need to fill that post as well. Tough times, but new leadership is always an opportunity for new ideas and innovation!
The final resolution I will mention is the hiring of a part-time veterinarian. Ingham County Animal Control has historically contracted for veterinary services at the shelter to examine and treat sick and injured animals and prescribe medications. The annual renewal of the contract has always been tenuous as few, if any, applicants apply. We had persuaded a local veterinarian to apply until a more permanent vendor could be contracted; however, that permanent vendor has eluded us. Each time the position is up for renewal it struggles to attract candidates based
on the wage amount, hours and contract requirements. The current vendor (veterinarian) accepted the bid on a short term basis simply to help the shelter
out. However, due to his busy practice he has expressed his desire to opt out but will continue until a replacement is found. However, he proposed to double the current contract. We couldn't accept that, so we decided to hire a part-time veterinarian (instead of contracting) for 20 hours per week. We included in the job description spaying and neutering of animals and other medical procedures to be required as part of the service conducted at the shelter at no additional cost. Animal Control will have the equipment and facilities to conduct such treatments. In addition to creating a more stable position, it ensures better training of animal care staff by a veterinarian, increases the quality of care, provides much needed veterinary care of the high volume of sick injured and abused animals brought into the county’s animal shelter, and results in long term savings on funds and resources currently spent on injured animal care, surgical, spay/neuter and veterinary costs.
I will remind those that read this blog by getting the facebook email that facebook is eliminating the group at some point. So, if you want to continue to get notifications, please "like" my facebook fan page. You can go here to do it - http://www.facebook.com/#!/andyschor.
I hope you have a great week!