Manatee County spends $22.3M annually on health care
BRADENTON -- The 10 volunteer citizens on Manatee County's new Health Care Advisory Board learned Tuesday that Manatee County is spending millions annually -- and not just on uninsured residents.
Board members learned the county will pay $22,363,218 in eight separate health care categories in 2016.
Health care for the uninsured, which is the board's focus, is only part of the pie.
"In Manatee County, on the average year, we spend more than $20 million toward health care," said Karen Windon, county deputy superintendent.
The biggest of eight categories is the county health care mandate, which totals $10.6 million, including $5.3 million for annual medical care daily for up to 1,000 jail inmates and $4.9 million on Medicaid matches, Windon added, which includes the county contribution for nursing home care.
"We don't have any option on these things," Windon said of the mandated costs. "They come off the top of our budget process on an annual basis."
The other seven categories:
Hospital contracts and physician payments for the uninsured or indigent will total $5.2 million in 2016, Windon said.
Behavioral health accounts for $2.8 million with $811,100 for inpatient/outpatient detox and $709,745 for mentally unstable adults, Windon said.
Administration, pilot programs and reserves for health care programs add up to $1.6 million.
Operating the Manatee County Health Department takes $1 million annually, Windon said.
Health care through clinics, pharmacy expenses and specialty care for the needy adds another $905,475.
The board, whose mission is to focus specifically on indigent health care, will meet next from 5-7 p.m. Jan. 27.
The audience for the first board meeting consisted of about a dozen people. Three addressed the new board and county staff, including registered nurse Jeannie Slater, community activist Glen Gibellina and Victoria Kasdan , the new executive director of We Care Manatee.
"I admire what this committee has taken on," said Slater. "The scope is huge. I don't know how you are going to start cutting away at that but I know you will make that happen. I would encourage you to identify, as soon as you can, your deliverables. There is a lot of chatter about this committee in the community and there is a lot of need for answers."
Gibellina said he was upset only a dozen residents showed up for the meeting.
"Where is everybody?" Gibellina said. "We've got 330,000 people here (in Manatee County). This room should be full. It's not."
Kasdan officially takes her new post at 8 a.m. Wednesday, replacing Jill Gass.
"As you think about what your recommendations should be to commissioners concerning infrastructure, one that has raised a red flag is the information exchange," Kasdan said, referring to a program to have agencies share information on indigent patients to avoid duplication of efforts. "Excellent idea. Good objective. The ability to track a patient or user of the services from birth to grave. But I am not sure the infrastructure is in the same place as the ideology."
Board members introduced themselves, including:
Bradenton native Steve Hall, market president with All Trust Insurance, a company that works on group health plans for employees.
Lori Dengler, a Manatee County resident since 1963, is a nurse practitioner with Tidewell Hospice,
Tom Skolada is a child psychologist and medical school professor who did substance abuse research with the Veterans's Administration and taught at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Lakewood Ranch.
Ray Fusco is a retired health care administrator.
Philip Brown is president of the United Way of Manatee County and worked at hospitals earlier in his career.
Kirk Zeppi, a licensed mental health counselor, has an adoption agency in Bradenton called Family Creations and has worked with children and families for 33 years.
Ernest "Sandy" Marshall, an attorney who has lived in Manatee County for 67 years, is a member of the Federation of Manatee County Community Associations.
Henry Raines manages a medical practice in Sarasota and managed Advanced Orthopedics in Manatee County in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He also spent 12 years on talk radio, he said.
Beverly Hindenlang's expertise is higher education.
Dominique Kohlenberger's expertise is health care.
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.