Williamson County approves new fund for indigent health care


Highlights

Williamson County Commissioners Court approved collecting payments from local hospitals.

Payments from local hospitals will receive matching funds from federal government.

The Williamson County Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously approved collecting mandatory payments from area hospitals to help pay for indigent care.

Commissioners haven’t decided on how much they will ask hospitals to pay, but the county is legally allowed to ask for up to 6 percent of a hospital’s net revenue from patients. This means the county could collect an estimated $10 million to $15 million from its 10 local hospitals a year, said Carlos Zaffirini, chief executive officer of Adelanto Healthcare Ventures, a consulting company.

The collections would help the county qualify for federal matching money to cover health care for poor residents.

Zaffirini — who has been working with local hospitals on the plan — said the federal government will match every dollar the county collects for the program with $1.50. He said there is $30 million available in matching federal money for a region that includes Travis, Hays and Bastrop counties.

Travis County does not participate in the program — called a local provider participation fund, he said. Hays, Bell and 18 other Texas counties are already involved in it, Zaffirini said.

Williamson County Commissioner Valerie Covey said she hopes the program can reduce the $5.4 million the county pays annually for indigent care. “We have talked about reducing our uncompensated care by $1 million,” she said.

READ: Police: Georgetown woman lied about income to get free health care

The federal government mandates that anyone who shows up at a hospital emergency room has to be treated, whether they can pay for health care or not, Commissioner Cynthia Long said.

A spokesperson for St. David’s Healthcare — which has at least two hospitals in Williamson County — declined to comment. Other hospitals and health care systems with facilities in Williamson County, including Georgetown Behavioral Hospital, Baylor Scott & White Health and Seton Healthcare Family, did not return requests for comment.

“Scott and White and Seton and Cedar Park Regional Medical Center currently support using it (participation fund) to claim all the federal money,” said Zaffirini, who has been talking to some of the health care systems.

The money from the fund can be used for indigent health care projects, such as expanding clinic hours to keep people out of emergency rooms and used to help pay for costs that Medicaid doesn’t cover, Zaffirini said.

The Commissioners Court will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Williamson County Courthouse, 710 Main St. in Georgetown, before setting the rate at which the hospitals will be required to make payments.

FOR MORE NEWS: Be sure to follow the Williamson County News Now page on Facebook



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

UPDATE: Threat cleared at Williamson County apartments, sheriff says
UPDATE: Threat cleared at Williamson County apartments, sheriff says

7:45 p.m. update: Authorities say residents are now able to move safely in and out of the Preserve at Rolling Oaks Apartments in Williamson County after law enforcement cleared a threat made earlier at the complex. “A specific threat was made in the area & after searching with multiple agencies we feel confident area is clear. Though nothing...
Border Patrol agent dies, partner seriously injured in Big Bend area

The FBI has taken charge of an investigation into the death of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent and the serious injury of another Sunday in the Big Bend area of Texas. Border Patrol agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were taken to a hospital after sustaining injuries while on duty around Big Bend. Martinez died and his partner, whose...
Man accused of baseball bat attacks in North Austin, police say

NORTH AUSTIN Man accused of baseball bat attacks A 26-year-old man was charged with five counts of aggravated assault after police said he struck five people with his hands and an aluminum baseball bat in North Austin. Kenney Irons was booked into the Travis County Jail in lieu of bail set at $100,000 following the incident at Zoe’s Helping Hand...
JUST IN: Man injured in rollover crash in northeast Austin Sunday
JUST IN: Man injured in rollover crash in northeast Austin Sunday

One man was injured in a rollover crash in northeast Austin on Sunday, Austin-Travis County EMS said. The wreck occurred on the southbound service road of Texas 130 near East Pflugerville Parkway shortly before 3 p.m., EMS said. A man in his 30s was pulled from his vehicle and taken to Seton Medical Center Williamson with potentially serious injuries...
Police: Florida woman kills husband, hides his duct taped body in closet
Police: Florida woman kills husband, hides his duct taped body in closet

A 65-year-old Florida woman was arrested and accused of murdering her husband and then hiding his duct-taped body behind a brick wall she built inside a closet.  Barbara Wozniak, of Shalimar, was charged with second-degree murder Friday night while she was already in the Okaloosa County jail on another charge of tampering with evidence...
More Stories