Tag: health care
The Jefferson County Commission voted 3-2 for a resolution that executes an amended master agreement to establish the framework for UAB to form an authority to operate Cooper Green Mercy Health System.
Commissioners Jimmie Stephens, Joe Knight and Steve Ammons voted for the measure. Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson voted no.
“I think this is really a defining moment for our indigent health care system,” Stephens, the commission president, said immediately following the vote. “Moving forward, I believe our indigents will be able to see a noticeable difference. I believe we’ll improve the quality of our health care and our efficiencies.”
Whether current Cooper Green employees who are hired to continue to work with the health care authority may remain in the county retirement system has been a point of concern for Tyson, the chair of the commission’s committee governing Cooper Green, and Scales. Stephens said those employees will have the option to remain in the county’s retirement system or go under a retirement system offered by the authority.
Scales said she voted no because all of the commissioners have not been given information during the negotiations.
“In my opinion, (that) did not occur,” she said. “Because it did not occur, it made me very uncomfortable with voting on a master agreement. I asked several questions I believe went unanswered.” Read more.
Today’s committee meeting of the Jefferson County Commission yielded two more meetings.
One addresses the county’s pending agreement with UAB concerning the master plan for the university healthcare authority; the other is to settle a potential change in an administrative order regarding spending from the economic development fund.
Commissioners agreed to reconvene this Thursday’s commission meeting at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 12 to hash out details of the healthcare authority. The panel will go into executive session so commissioners can address questions to the county attorney and the independent attorney who are working on this matter.
The Economic Development Committee will meet at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 18 to discuss spending from the fund.
Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the master agreement with UAB was sent to the commission and county manager Tony Petelos. Subsequently, the county sent the agreement back to UAB with some changes. Read more.
It’s increasingly difficult for rural hospitals to make ends meet. Many have had to freeze or cut salaries, said Danne Howard, chief policy officer with the Alabama Hospital Association. Some have eliminated services, like obstetrics and gynecology. Howard said others partner with outside groups or bigger health systems to take some of the financial pressure off.
“It’s clear to see that we’ve got a number of hospitals that may not survive in the current financial environment,” she said.
In the past decade, seven rural hospitals have closed in Alabama, and of those that remain, 88% operate in the red.
But Howard said Medicare is throwing the state a lifeline. The federal health insurance program, primarily for senior citizens, recently approved a plan to start paying rural hospitals a little more money. Read more.
Update: The commission in its Thursday meeting approved the nominations as introduced.
The Jefferson County Commission voted Tuesday on the commissioners they intend to nominate to the UAB Healthcare Authority and Sheila Tyson, chair of the committee dealing with Cooper Green Mercy Health System, was not included.
A majority of commissioners agreed that chief financial officer John Henry should be recommended for a 2-year term, and county manager Tony Petelos and Commissioner Joe Knight to 1-year terms.
“I see the good ole boy network is still alive,” Tyson said. “If they wanted to start a road committee out of the gas tax and they didn’t want you (Stephens) on there and you are the chair of roads and transportation, you would have a problem with that. But it’s all right not to put me on the committee where I sit and have been working on.”
Tuesday’s vote was not final but will go before commissioners again Thursday. Read more.
After two months of waiting, Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales wanted some answers today concerning the health care authority being designed by UAB Health System and Jefferson County and expressed concern that commissioners are not more involved in the process.
County manager Tony Petelos said answers are still to come as he and leaders at UAB continue discussions in the due diligence phase of the negotiation to form a new system for indigent health care.
“Our legal department has been working with UAB’s legal department and HR department also,” Petelos said during the commission committee meeting. “We’re very, very close to bringing you something in the very near future.”
Scales expressed concern about the lack of involvement of herself and her fellow commissioners.
“Although we have the county manager, Tony Petelos, and his staff to operate on behalf of the commission, I do believe that the commission themselves should have oversight in terms of what is being negotiated,” she said. Read more.
The executive director of Jefferson County’s General Retirement System has softened her stance concerning eligibility of employees of Cooper Green Mercy Clinic to remain in the county pension system.
The issue arose when Jefferson County commissioners brought up a proposal to study partnering with UAB to form a health care authority.
In a letter last week, Amy Adams wrote that current pension law would not permit Cooper Green employees to participate in the county’s pension if they were “terminated.” A day later, she clarified a point and said it might be possible under certain conditions. Read more.
A last-ditch effort by Jefferson County commissioners Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson to delay a vote on an authority to govern indigent health care in Jefferson County failed today.
Commissioners Jimmie Stephens, Joe Knight and Steve Ammons voted to approve the resolution to enter a due diligence period with UAB Health System to negotiate an agreement to create a University Healthcare Authority.
Scales and Tyson voted no.
“Today was unfortunate for the poor people, the vulnerable folks of Jefferson County as well as the employees of Jefferson County,” Scales said. “Employees are devastated. Employees feel the county has turned its back on them.”
Stephens viewed the action differently.
“It’s going to be a great day for our indigent in Jefferson County,” the commission president said. “They will be able to receive state-of-the-art care from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. And from what I’ve heard today, I’m very much encouraged that our employees will be taken care of in this process also. Read more.
Earlier this week:
A four-hour committee meeting of the Jefferson County Commission ended Tuesday with a 3-2 vote to move the creation of a UAB Healthcare Authority to the agenda of Thursday’s commission meeting.
Commissioners Jimmie Stephens, Joe Knight and Steve Ammons voted in favor of taking up the measure Thursday, with Lashunda Scales and Sheila Tyson voting no.
Stephens said the health care authority is needed because that was part of the commission’s pledge when in-patient care was closed at Cooper Green Mercy Hospital, “to form the best possible indigent care for our citizens.”
But Scales pleaded with her fellow commissioners to delay action, saying the move lacked transparency and had little to do with providing health care to the poor. Read more.
State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, is asking Jefferson County to “slow this train down” in its efforts to work with the University of Alabama at Birmingham in forming a health care authority.
“They have not looked at Act 201 that was passed in 2016 dealing with the Indigent Care Fund. You cannot take the Indigent Care Fund and do what you want to do with it,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he received a copy of a confidential contract between UAB and Jefferson County concerning a proposed healthcare authority. He said the agreement has problems with personnel and other matters. He called the contract “a bunch of malarkey” and said the contract calls for the authority to have a seven-member board with four members coming from UAB. Read more.