Indigent Health Care Discussed in Commissioners Court

The Ellis County Commissioners Court heard from David Anderson, CEO of Ennis Regional Hospital, Jay Fox, CEO of Baylor Hospital Waxahachie, and Mackie Owens, CEO of Hope Clinic, concerning the current status of funding for the County’s Indigent Health Care Program.

Currently, Hope Clinic provides health care services to the County’s indigent clients pursuant to a contract with Ellis County. Under an agreement that was originally proposed in December of 2011, Baylor and Ennis Hospitals would administer the County’s contract with Hope Clinic, thereby drawing down matching Federal funds to offset the hospitals’ expenses for uncompensated care.

In an effort to support the viability of the County’s local hospitals while at the same time providing health care to the indigent, the Commissioners Court authorized an Affiliation Agreement with both hospitals in December of 2011. The County Judge invited all parties to Commissioners Court to discuss the status of the agreement between the hospitals and Hope Clinic. Anderson expressed frustration that negotiations with Hope Clinic have not yielded a signed agreement that would allow the available Federal matching funds to be drawn down locally. He also noted that many other counties in the State have taken advantage of this program.

Echoing Anderson’s continued desire to achieve an agreement with Hope Clinic, Fox added that the hospitals “will continue to look for strategies that will allow them to obtain matching federal dollars.” Hope Clinic is a Federally Qualified Health Care Center, and as such, is not eligible to receive additional federal funds.

County Judge Carol Bush noted that “this is a unique opportunity for the four entities to participate in an arrangement that would assist our local hospitals while preserving the method of delivery of indigent health care services.”

Owens stated that no special Board meeting would be called, and that Hope Clinic’s Board of Directors would reconsider entering into the contract with the hospitals at their regularly scheduled meeting on October 18, 2012.

In other business, a Proclamation was issued by the Court to recognize the month of October 2012 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A copy of the Proclamation was presented to Alisha Peters of Healing Hearts Center.

Mike Ramsey of Waxahachie Economic Development gave a presentation to the Commissioners about the proposed lighting of the downtown square. The City of Waxahachie has agreed to pay for the electrical costs, as well as for the installation of lights in the nine trees that surround the historic Courthouse. Details still have to be worked out but the projected date to light the trees is in December.

Kathy Eriksen, Special Projects Director, notified the Commissioners that the repairs to the Public Communications System are almost complete. The voter system is operational and narrowbanding the user equipment and infrastructure will begin next week. If everything goes according to schedule, Ellis County will be in compliance with the FCC mandate to narrowband by November 1, 2012.