The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 30, 2013

Health care reform impact reviewed

CLINTON — The Clinton County Board of Supervisors are planing ahead for healthcare reform that starts in January 2014.

Ruth Lee of RJ Lee & Associates came to the board’s meeting on Monday to give her health consultant report. During the report, Lee explained some of the taxes the county will face with the reform.

The first tax is a $1 surcharge for every man, woman and child covered under the county’s insurance plan. Lee told the supervisors that this fee will go toward a committee that is dealing with research on outcomes. She said the purpose is to identify those types of medical treatments that produce best results for particular chronic conditions, such as cancer and chronic heart disease. Lee said that with the amount of money that will bring in, she would like to be on that committee.

“They're going to have a lot of money. I hope it produces good results and I hope it isn't a situation where they come out with recommendations that become mandates and every doctor has to do it one way,” Lee said.

Lee told the board that this tax will begin on July 1, 2013 and will increase to $2 in July 1, 2014.

However, the question was raised if the county would be allowed to start the tax on July 1, 2014, since that is the start of the county’s fiscal year. The point was also made that the reform is not supposed to start until January 2014. Lee and County Auditor Eric Van Lancker said they would look into the issue.

Lee also spoke about the other tax that will be put into effect at the same time. This $63 per person, per year tax will go into a pool to cover the high-risk, uninsured population.

“It's a way to fund some of the promises that are contained with the healthcare reform legislation,” Lee said.

Lee provided a rough calculation of the annual cost of this tax. She estimated 225 employees and multiplied it by 2.3 people. This gave her an annual cost of approximately $32,000. Van Lancker said this extra cost will be paid out of the health benefits plan. He added that they plan to take some of the money from the other two organizations on their insurance plan — Clinton County Area Solid Waste Agency and the Arch.

Lee told the board that they should plan as if nothing will change in the healthcare reform. She noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling was a surprise to everyone. She added that they still do not know what else might happen.

“So we'll see what survives. I mean, we've got Congressional battles coming,” Lee raid.

In her financial report, Lee also reported a decrease in the insurance plan’s loss ratio. From July 2012 to December 2012, the ratio was 82 percent. Lee said this ratio was 86 percent at the same time in 2011. While she would prefer 80 percent, Lee said a 82 percent ratio was not horrible. Lee also outlined the county’s prescription coverage with Med Trak. She said they have received a better pricing since making the move to the company. She also spoke about step therapy and some of the options for pharmacies for specialty prescriptions, such as injectable medications.

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