Monday, June 18, 2012

Facing budget shortfalls, many county and district health departments cut hours and staff

Reduced hours and staff will be the new reality for many health departments across Kentucky starting in July as they deal with funding shortages and changes.

Though the total amount of state funding to local health departments has not gone down, the way it is allocated has changed. “Part of the new formula took into account the population served and percentage of population below the poverty level,” reports Beth Musgrave for the Lexington Herald-Leader. Counties that serve more “working poor” — people who are employed but don’t have insurance — were hit the hardest by the reformulation.

Kentucky’s move to managed care for its Medicaid recipients also affected funding because reimbursement rates went down. Meanwhile, retirement and health insurance costs continue to go up.

There are 59 county and district health departments in Kentucky, all of which are funded partly by local property taxes, ranging from 1.8 cents to 4 cents per $100 worth of property. With the recession, local tax revenues have decreased, contributing to funding shortfalls.

Musgrave reports of furloughs, staff cuts and program cuts in various counties surrounding Lexington. Local news outlets should look at what is happening to health departments in their areas. (Read more

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