Stanislaus County Health Agency Hit by Deficits
The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency on Tuesday reported a budget shortfall of $4.9 million for fiscal year 2006-2007, the Modesto Bee reports.
The deficit is in addition to the $6.25 million that the county planned to provide for the Health Services Agency this year. The county board of supervisors on Tuesday voted to use funds from the HSA strategic plan contingency fund, the HSA Public Health Fund balance and tobacco settlement money to provide the $6.25 million subsidy to the agency.
Mary Ann Lee, the agency's managing director, said the shortfall comes from accounting errors resulting from:
- Overvaluing pharmaceutical discounts;
- Overestimating revenue from lab and radiology services; and
- Overestimating revenue from bills that could not be collected.
In addition, revenue for the health services agency was $6 million less than projected in the budget, although expenses were $1.1 million below estimates, according to county data.
County CEO Rick Robinson said deficits from previous years also might affect the current year's budget for the agency.
Whether HSA will have to reduce services largely depends on the county gaining a federal designation that would make it eligible for higher Medicare reimbursements.
Lee said the designation could translate to $6 million in additional reimbursements from the federal government.
Golden Valley Health Centers, a not-for-profit operator of health clinics in the county, opposes the agency's application for the designation because it would give the county more federal reimbursement funds than Golden Valley receives for the same procedures, Mike Sullivan, CEO of Golden Valley, said.
Sullivan also said that having two federally designated organizations in the county will create competition between them for grants and funding to serve the indigent population.
However, Supervisor Jeff Grover argues that the HSA's costs are higher because it has to cover low-income patients that no other facilities will accept and that its funding structure does not account for the agency's current structure (Moran, Modesto Bee, 6/27).