Cleburne Times-Review, Cleburne, TX

Local News

July 15, 2013

Commissioners approve indigent health care payments

xJohnson County Commissioners on Friday agreed to pay $370,000 to Texas Health Resources, the company operating Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Cleburne, to partially reimburse the hospital for providing health care to indigent people.

The county agreed earlier to pay THR $200,000 a quarter for indigent health care costs, with the state matching each $1 the county paid with $1.39. A representative with THR said the state gave the OK for the county to pay for two quarters and would likely not OK another IGT before January. The county would still be paying the already-approved amount for the year, he said, but would just be paying one quarter in advance.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Rick Bailey made the motion to approve the $370,000 payment, stopping short of the full $400,000 for two quarters to avoid completely depleting that fund. Federal law allows the county to choose to participate in the program to reimburse hospitals for the costs of indigent health care, but does not require the payments.

The THR representative said indigent health care costs in the county in the second quarter had been unexpectedly and alarmingly high. County Judge Roger Harmon said that happened because employees in the county’s indigent health care office had been adding people to the indigent health care rolls that did not qualify.

“That was our problem. We’ve taken care of that,” Harmon said.

Commissioners fired the head of the indigent health care department earlier this year, and the second person in the department resigned a few months later.

The payment was approved with a 3-1 vote, with Precinct 4 Commissioner Don Beeson abstaining. Precinct 3 Commissioner Jerry Stringer voted against the payment.

“I have been against this from day one, and I am against it now,” Stringer said, explaining that his opposition is based on the possibility that what is now “allowed” by federal government could become required.

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