Stanislaus supervisors to mull complex transfer

kcarlson@modbee.comAugust 5, 2013 

  • ABOUT THE REPORTER
    alternate textKen Carlson
    Title: Staff writer
    Coverage areas: County government, health and medicine, air quality, the environment and public pension systems
    Bio: Ken Carlson has worked 13 years for The Bee, covering local government agencies in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties. His in-depth reporting has focused on access to health care and public employee pensions.
    Recent stories written by Ken
    E-mail: kcarlson@modbee.com

Government health care funding always is mind-boggling, and a proposal going to Stanislaus County supervisors today is a prime example.

The county Health Services Agency wants to make sure services continue for Medi-Cal patients who are treated for back injuries, cancer or chronic illness at its specialty care and rehabilitation clinics on Scenic Drive in Modesto. That's the simple part.

The agency will work out a deal with the insurer, Health Net, and then execute an intergovernmental transfer to bring in $1.2 million in additional federal revenue for medical services. That will start to cover a $2.5 million shortfall in the county health services budget for the fiscal year that began last month.

Mary Ann Lee, county health services director, said there are other opportunities for using local dollars to leverage federal funds, and the county health system hopes to take advantage of them later this year.

Supervisors could approve the transfer in a consent item today without trying to follow an explanation of the incredibly complex process. Here's how the money shuffle will work:

1. Before Sept. 30, the Health Services Agency will transfer to the California Department of Health Care Services $1.42 million in funding it normally gets from the general fund.

2. The county will make a separate $283,000 payment to the DHCS to cover the state's administrative costs.

3. The county then will trust the state to draw down $1.487 million in funds through Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor.

4. The state health department will use the county funds and federal matching dollars to increase payments to the county for serving Medi-Cal patients under the Health Net managed care plan.

5. The funding to the county will come through Health Net, which administers one of the two Medi-Cal managed care plans in Stanislaus County. The insurer will keep $59,500 for its trouble.

Officials are saying the net increase in revenue for the county is $1.2 million.

Lee said the Health Services Agency doesn't expect to increase services in the specialty care and rehab clinics, which handle almost 30,000 patient visits annually. But without the federal funding, the agency would need to ask for additional money from the county general fund. And it already gets up to $4 million a year from that source.

"We could not continue to provide the volume of services without solving that $2.5 million exposure," Lee said.

Other counties that don't have their own hospitals, such as Santa Cruz and Sonoma, have taken advantage of these transfers in recent years, Lee said. While the process may seem nutty to the general public, the director said it's a way for state and federal government to reward counties that commit local dollars to the health safety net.

The Health Services Agency works with local specialists to provide cancer treatment, neurology, orthopedics, urology, neurosurgery and other services to patients. More than half of the patients served by the clinics are Medi-Cal recipients.

In Stanislaus County, Medi-Cal patients can choose to receive their health care services through Health Net Community Solutions or Health Plan of San Joaquin.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.


BOARD OF SUPERVISORS WATCH

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. today in the basement chamber of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St., Modesto. The board will consider the following items:

• A compensation package for Assistant Executive Officer Stan Risen, who was appointed to serve as interim chief executive officer after Monica Nino departs Aug. 16. Risen's pay will match Nino's salary of $209,475 per year, or $17,456 a month. Risen, who currently earns $182,740 per year, will serve as the county's top manager during the recruitment for a new CEO, which could run through the end of the year.

• A presentation from Sheriff Adam Christianson on the county inmate roadside program.

• Purchase of three transit buses powered by natural gas. The buses would be purchased from New Flyer America Inc. for $1.84 million.

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