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Lake County Public Health makes budgetary adjustments for 2013/14

While their overall budget has been decreased for the coming fiscal year, Lake County Public Health has increased their medical supplies line item in anticipation of changes in state policies.

Public Health Dir. Mary Wilkie noted that changes at the state level have impacted their vaccination program.  Previously, state-issued vaccines were available for those clients that couldn’t afford their co-pay due to a high insurance deductible.

Their insurance companies would be charged for the associated administrative fee, Wilkie said.

Costs for incremental (3 month, 6 month, etc.) vaccinations for babies typically can cost between $300 and $400, she noted, but the state recently did away with these vaccines.

“It was a shock to our clients,” Wilkie said, who noted concerns when proposing increased vaccinations for her department during budget talks last month.  The biggest fear was potentially finding itself faced with a large, non-reimbursed bill, Wilkie said.

The changes come in the wake of the federal Affordable Health Care Act, which is slated to take effect in 2014.

Statewide, health care reform efforts include the aforementioned transition to CCO-based care, which is intended to maximize coordinated services while also reducing costs, Wilkie said.

Wilkie said that she is trying to establish her department as a preferred provider, which isn’t an easy task given that most insurance companies prefer to contract with physicians, rather than agencies.

Under the forthcoming AHCA, vaccinations are not paid for as preventative medicine, she said, though mandated coverage covers the well women’s exam.

“That, to me, is frustrating, as vaccinations are certainly preventable (medicine),” she said.

Given that Oregon already has a low vaccination rate, Wilkie said this component of the AHCA may exacerbate the issue.

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