County to Hold Public Forums on Public Health

An in-depth discussion is about to take place about the fate and current state of the Public Health Department of Winnebago County. It will be a part of a series of public meetings that will be held by the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors. The first of these meetings will take place on Tuesday at 10am in the Supervisors Meeting Room in the Winnebago County Courthouse. The second and third will be done at the TSB Community Room in the basement of the TSB Bank in Forest City and the Thompson Public Library Community Room. The meeting at TSB will begin at 4:30pm. The meeting in Thompson begins at 7pm. The public is highly encouraged to attend.

According to public records, the expected budget for the Winnebago County Public Health Department is $1,367,859 in expenditures. Of that, the county is expected to fund $676,030. This breaks down to $973,310 in projected salaries, supplies, and other miscellaneous business expenditures. Another $394,549 is projected for benefits to employees such as health insurance, FICA, etc. The budget that will not be covered by the county will be made up in charges to patients, grants, and payments from Medicare and Medicaid.

By comparison, Hancock County is working in tandem with the Hancock County Health System. The county pays the health group $100,000 to manage the Hancock County Public Health Department. The Hancock County Health System then assumes all other expenses, billing, and other charging of accounts. The county has no other additional expenses.

For Winnebago County with no hospital to fall back on and various clinics throughout the county, they are faced to have to manage $1.36 million budget for a public health department that continues to fight the HMO’s, Medicare, and Medicaid in billing. The agencies have the health department filling out paperwork to obtain money back for the services that are provided, however the agencies then return the paperwork to the health department claiming that it was not filled out properly, coded incorrectly, or further information is required. In some cases, the stalling allows the agency to avoid payment due to time limitations on reimbursement.

Winnebago County Supervisor Bill Jensvold wants to hear from the public on this issue.

For Supervisor Terry Durby, there are concerns regarding the continual non-reimbursements and delays in payments that area causing the budgeted expenses to go potentially higher. He wants the public to be more informed and to give feedback on the problems ahead.