Click to search Click to search

The Grant County Commission continued its meeting by adjourning and reconvening as the Grant County Indigent and Health Care Claims Board.

Beth Allred of Gila Regional Medical Center explained to the commissioners and the public the process of funding what is called the Grant County Health Fund.

"Several years ago, we recognized the negative connotation to the word indigent, so we changed the name," Allred said. "The fund was formed in the 1980s for the 'working poor.' The voters of Grant County approved a small piece of the gross receipts tax, which goes into the Health Fund.

"We made an arrangement with the county, since the hospital is county-owned, so that when requests for funding outstrip the county portion, we can match the funding," she continued. "We have been able to grow the fund."

Qualifications to be eligible for the fund include being a county resident for at least 90 days. The income level for eligibility changes annually as a percentage of the federal poverty level, Allred said.

After a person has services at the hospital, he or she will see the staff at the business office, where proof of residency and proof of income will be processed. The designation as qualified is good for one year. The forms are also on the grmc.org website. The person submits the bill back to the hospital and the hospital creates the forms to fill out.

"We send the payment to the state; the state sends it off to Medicaid," Allred said. "Medicaid money supports the claim."

County Manager Jon Paul Saari asked Allred if GRMC has already incurred the loss, and the funding offsets that loss partially.

"Yes, we are being paid for services we have already performed," Allred said. "Between the indigent fund and bad debt we incur about half a million dollars a month. So we provide each month about $1 million in services with no insurance."

Commission Chairman Brett Kasten said: "So you, through this fund, are paid about half the debt."

Saari said the gross receipts tax portion that covers the indigent fund is two 1/8ths and one 1/16th, with another 1/8th available, but it would require voter approval.

"The hospital also gets several supplemental payments a year because some communities cannot meet the match," Saari said. "I ask people to talk to the representatives and senators, state and federal, not to make changes, because that would be detrimental."

Allred said the hospital sits on the Human Services Committee. "Things are on the table and changes are coming. It's good to be proactive. Our match is usually about 40 percent, but it fluctuates. If we send a patient to another facility, we get some reimbursement."

Kasten asked if other hospitals ever reimburse Gila Regional for patients treated from elsewhere.

"Rarely," Allred said.

Saari said Mimbres Memorial Hospital in Deming asks Grant County for $70,000 to $80,000 annually, but doesn't ask for payment of claims.

Allred said through statute the hospital can also pay struggling physicians. "We developed an agreement, under strict regulations, to pay physicians partially for services at the hospital."

Commissioner Ron Hall, who had asked for the explanation, thanked Allred for her presentation.

Kasten asked about the process for determining whether a patient is deserving.

"We have two people in the business office who do the process," Allred said. "It's a rigorous qualification process. Once a person has service, the individual visit has a number, and we use no names because of the  (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – HIPPA) requirements. It's a multi-step process, with as many internal controls as possible."

After commissioners reconvened as the Board of Commissioners, they heard county reports.

Sheriff Raul Villanueva had no report.

Assessor Randy Villa said he thinks the D.A.R.E. program is great, but "I'm concerned that there were a lot of females, but only one male."

Villa explained that if a veteran has an existing exemption for property taxes, there is no need to reapply. However, those 65 years of age and older must reapply each year because of the need for proof of household income.

Treasurer Steve Armendariz thanked the voters who voted for him. "Our office stands ready to serve all residents and property owners. We continue to have issues with mobile homes. People are not rendering on an annual basis." He said the issue will be discussed at the upcoming New Mexico Association of Counties Treasurers' Affiliate. He pointed out that there is a difference between mobile and manufactured homes.

Clerk Robert Zamarripa said early voting for the school board candidates would begin in the Clerk's office on Friday, Jan. 11, from 8 a.m. -5 p.m. Early voting ends Feb. 1, and Election Day is Feb. 5.

Saari announced a special meeting tentatively set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 4, to look at the sole community provider issue and for an update from the Forest Service on the Travel Management Plan.

No second meeting of the County Commission will be held in January, because of the legislative session.

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Four NEW classifieds for furniture and an REI screen house

A new classified just came in from a fellow looking for work doing thinning, fire protection work, etc. 

Classifieds: We have changed Classifieds to a cheaper and shorter option. Check periodically to see if any new ones have popped up. The former software failed us, so it's just a category now, with prices posted. Send your information to editor@grantcountybeat.com and we will post it as soon as we can. Instructions and prices are on the page.

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at https://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists. And check out the old faithfuls who continue to provide content.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos with a byline or photo credit are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was written by someone not affiliated with the Beat and then sent to the Beat for posting.

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ads on the Beat.

Newsletter: If you opt in to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com if you notice any technical problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat. 

Disclaimer: If you find errors in articles not written by the Beat team but sent to us from other content providers, please contact the writer, not the Beat. For example, obituaries are always provided by the funeral home or a family member.

We can fix errors, but please give details on where the error is so we can find it. News releases from government and non-profit entities are posted generally without change, except for legal notices, which incur a small charge.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com