While a budget fight tied to the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act plays out in Washington D.C., local health agencies around the country are trying to get organized to deal with changes they are scheduled to face because of the law. One of those agencies is the Daviess County Health Department. “We have a lot of changes coming our way,” said Kathy Sullender with the Daviess County Health Department.
In the past, the health department might have been the place of last resort for preventative care, providing immunizations and other services for people who did not have a doctor or insurance. Now, it may become the the primary spot for those same services. “The ACHA now requires insurance companies to cover preventative services,” said Sullender. “We have now begun preparing to provide immunizations to everyone.”
Since the law requires people to now have health insurance that now means the health department has been busy trying to deal with insurance companies.
“We’ve rearranged some of our people,” said Sullender. “We worked with the state to get more computers, software, and training. We’ve already set up agreements so that we can accept some insurance companies and we’re trying to get all of them to work with us.”
Getting the local health department on the same page with the insurance companies has been a big challenge. “We aren’t used to dealing with those companies and they are not used to dealing with health departments,” explained Sullender. “They all use different forms. Sometimes their software won’t match with ours. They all have different rationales and have different ways of doing things.”
The big plus though in dealing with those companies is the potential for an increased cash flow. “We’ll be able to bill insurance companies for services and collect some fees,” said Sullender. “A lot of that will be going back into purchasing vaccines. Those are expensive, and with a lot of private providors stopping giving immunizations that will be something the local health departments will have to take on.”