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Primary care center questions

In the Lycoming County Budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year there is a line item noted “Primary Care Health Center.”

The plan specifies “$1.2 million for a build-out for a health center for county employees and their families and $2 million for a build-out and move from Executive Plaza to the Third Street Plaza. Revenue from the sale of Executive Plaza, once the move is completed, will offset the expense of the project, but revenue in next year’s budget does not reflect that.

“Once that’s programmed in or received, it’ll decrease the deficit even more, leaving us in an even better financial position going into 2023.

“…By doing the wellness center, the commissioners are hoping to drive down insurance costs to the county by encouraging employees to use the center instead of emergency rooms at local hospitals and other community health centers. … One of the benefits of the health center is that employees will be able to see a health care professional at no charge and without scheduling an appointment.

“Although it’s a benefit to employees, it’s a benefit to taxpayers. Because ultimately, if we have healthier employees, you’re going to have a lower tax bill because we are self-funded,’ Mirabito said.

“Being self-funded means that we pay for every health care claim, he added.

“The county tax (rate) is 20 cents on the tax dollar. ‘Depending on where you live, it’s going to be 21 to 24 cents from your municipality, then your school district tax is about 56 cents on the tax dollar,’ Metzger said.”

I ask: has the county explored the potential options to this proposed Health Care concept with Geisinger and/or the UPMC Organizations, both of which offer similar programs?

Should taxpayers pay the bill annually for a County Employee/Families Primary Health Care Center/Wellness Center that only serves county employees and their families?

Such a venture may unnecessarily duplicate multiple primary care/wellness centers already in existence and could end up costing county taxpayers more than if the county utilized the existing Geisinger and/or UPMC offerings, both of which offer comprehensive primary care/wellness center services that are additionally buffered with sophisticated diagnostic needs analyses (like X-Ray and Lab) so often required in the primary care/wellness center process.

A primary health care center embodies first contact, then comprehensive care, then continuous care followed by coordinated care. It’s operations are extremely complex and require the maintenance of a mountain of confidential medical records, specialized practitioner/medically licensed para professionals, line employees, comprehensive medical malpractice insurance, specialized health computer informatics and sophisticated operating equipment and medical supplies.

Has a cost/benefit analysis concerning this venture been conducted and if it has, why not share the results with its citizens?

The results concluded from said report could alleviate a lot of concerns/questions about this proposed expenditure. Saying it will save taxpayers money doesn’t necessarily mean it will unless the projected documentation of it’s proposed utilization indicates that it actually will!

Finally, If it hasn’t already been addressed, why not convene a joint discussion between our county commissioners and our health care executives to explore this articulated desire to conserve taxpayer dollars on all the county’s health care expenditures?

Corroboration at that level would ultimately authenticate the most appropriate resolution to address these health care cost concerns and would ultimately benefit our community, which is appropriately served by both constituents.

FRANK TRIPOLI

Williamsport

Submitted by Virtual Newsroom

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