Health care workshop produces many suggestions for county commissioners

skennedy@bradenton.comJune 4, 2014 

MANATEE -- The knotty problem of providing health care to those who lack it took center stage Tuesday during a work session sponsored by Manatee County commissioners.

In a roundtable format, participants discussed how to encourage prevention, the role of local government and what might constitute a community health plan.

"Government should be involved in motivating the community," said Dr. Fabian Ramos during the session at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. He said he thought prevention was an important aspect of a good system, and recommended educational programs to help patients be accountable for their own healthful behavior.

A group discussing the role of local government in health care heard from some speakers who didn't think government was equipped to handle such matters at all. Others thought the county should act "as a safety net" to ensure people received health care.

Larry Rued of Palmetto said nationwide changes under the federal Affordable

Care Act, which has provided health insurance to millions who did not have it before, have yet to be digested.

"Before the county embarks on any localized plan, we need to understand Medicaid and the ACA," he said.

Philip Brown III, president of the United Way of Manatee County, said the demise of the county health care fund, which pays for indigent patients, might be an opportunity.

"This is an opening to decide if we want to work on it, and struggle with it, because it will be thorny," he said.

The health care fund is slated to run out of money next year. County officials organized the workshops to find a way to pay for care for the poor without it.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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