An unfortunate oversight in budgeting has led the Waseca County Board of Commissioners to hold a public hearing for Waseca-Le Sueur County Public Health.
At its last meeting, which took place Tuesday, the Board of Commissioners discussed a number of items surrounding the Public Health Department on its action agenda. First on the list was the appointment of a medical consultant, a requirement from the state, with the second issue being an oversight in the county’s master fee schedule, leading to the necessity of a public hearing.
Master fee schedule changes
“Due to a miscommunication, some critical public health fee adjustments were not included in the original list for 2023,” Public Health Director Sara Berry said. “We missed some key changes to the schedule for the year, and we’d like for you to set a public hearing on these.”
The changes to the fee schedule are being done with the hopes of bringing in more revenue to the county, Berry said.
“Some of [the changes] we’re trying to align to our potential for reimbursement from the state, while others are being adjusted, because we had large write-offs in those areas,” Berry said.
According to the request for board action submitted by Berry, the department will be looking to adjust the cost of five services. Education for Lactation consultation will be set at $120, raised from $50.29, with Berry saying that the cost, “will be reimbursed by insurance at that rate and would match other services we provide at the $120 rate.”
The next two changes involve the cost of a flu vaccine. For high doses and Quadrivalent, the price would be raised from $60 to $69.94, with CMS/Medicaid covering the cost. For single doses of the vaccine, the price will lower from $60 to $21.52 to more accurately align with the cost covered by CMS/Medicaid.
Public Health will also look to change the wording of “other injectable administrations” in the fee schedule to “public health Nurse clinic” as it “better matches the billing language and expands our ability to capture revenue.” They also look to raise the rate of that service from $5 to $50, with the cost being covered by Medicaid. Finally, the cost for a home nurse visit will rise from $120 to $200, to better match the cost of similar services the department provides.
Overall, the changes in the fee schedule, should they all be approved, will bring in an estimated $10,860 in revenue to the county. The changes weren’t met with too much criticism from the commissioners, who voted unanimously to set the public hearing for 9:30 a.m. on March 21.
Pursuant to Minnesota Statute 145A.04, Subdivision 2, the Waseca-Le Sueur County Public Health Department is required to appoint a licensed physician as its medical consultant “to provide direction and protocols for our immunization services and also serve as a valuable resource when needed.”
For Le Sueur County, Dr. Daniel Berg has been serving in this role, and he offered to serve in the same role for Waseca County, too. According to Berry, many services, including immunizations, would be lost from the county with a medical consultant; immunizations specifically being noted for bringing in $3,500 annually in revenue.
One concern, raised by Commissioner Doug Christopherson, surrounded the compensation for this position. However, to the surprise of the board, Berry said the contract for the position actually doesn’t include any compensation, and Berg would be providing the service for free.
“There’s not a lot of time involved in this generally,” Berry said. “It’s mostly just being available for a few conversations and taking some phone calls.”
On the back of this clarification, the Waseca County commissioners voted unanimously to appoint Berg as the Waseca County Public Health medical consultant, effective March 7. According to the contract included in the agenda packet for the meeting, either Berg or the commissioners can terminate Berg’s tenure in the position, so long as 60 days written notice is given.