From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 7, Number 13 - June 21, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

SCRHCD to implement sliding-fee schedule

by Tiffany Turner

Sublette County will soon implement a new government program that allows patients to pay discounted fees for medical services based upon their ability to afford the expenses. At the June 13 Sublette County Rural Health Care District (SCRHCD) board meeting, Director Randy Johnson proposed adopting a sliding fee scale schedule for those who cannot afford to pay for the entirety of their medical treatment at the clinics. The schedule was passed unanimously.

According to Johnson, the program will aid those who cannot pay or do not have insurance. Once the schedule is in place, patients will be charged based on their ability to pay.

In order to implement this program, the clinics will have to become a Federally Qualified Health Care Clinic, which has strict government requirements for participation.

“According to the Bureau of Primary Health Care’s program information notice 2003-21, any applicant for the Federally Qualified Health Clinic status must: ‘assure all required services are available to all persons in the service area or target population. Services may not be limited by race, group, affiliation, age, gender or the patient’s ability to pay,’” Johnson said. “Further, the applicant must provide ‘written clinical policies and procedures, which (assure) the availability of services to all persons in the service area or target population, regardless of their ability to pay, and the organization’s sliding fee schedule.’”

According to Johnson, this sliding-fee schedule (also called a schedule of discounts) must be based on the current Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines as they are published in the Federal Register.

After the clinic qualifies for the program, clients will need to prove need in order to receive the aid.

“A client will be required to provide proof of poverty status, including income statements, tax returns and other verifiable information sources that show that they do fall under the Federal Poverty Limit,” Johnson said. “Once this is established, they will be eligible to pay reduced rates, according to where they fall on the fee schedule.

“For example, in 2001 a single person earning less than $8,590 per year would qualify to pay nothing or a very minimal fee for medical services at a Qualified Health Clinic.”

Other items discussed during the June 13 SCRHCD board meeting:

• Walt Bousman resigned as secretary/treasurer of the board and was elected new vice president (vacancy left by Jud Faler); Dave Racich was elected secretary/treasurer in Bousman’s place.

* The board officially moved to accept and unanimously accepted Garry Eiden’s letter of resignation.

* The district has several new doctors interviewing and showing interest in employment at the clinics, so far none have been officially hired.

* The Pinedale Medical Clinic is still on schedule for completion on Nov. 14. The exterior is nearly complete, the interior structure is nearly 60 percent complete and the interior (plumbing, mechanical, etc…) is nearly 30 percent complete. The project is still under budget.

* The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) has recently made new hires. They have employed two drivers, two EMT Basics and a Basic Emergency Care (BEC) for the summer. All positions will be rotating between Pinedale and Big Piney/Marbleton to learn the layout and processes at both clinics.

* The SCRHCD board had agreed to hold their monthly meetings the second Wednesday of every month alternating between the Marbleton Town Hall and the Pinedale Commissioners’ Room at the Courthouse. These meetings will be held at 7 p.m. with the exception of August and September, which will be held at 7:30 p.m.

* There will be three consecutive meetings held on June 27. One will be the regular meeting of the SCRHCD board and the other two will be special meetings. One special meeting will be held to appoint Eiden’s replacement on the board, and the other will be held to sign vouchers.

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