• July 26, 2014

Indigent program helps poor in Bell Co.

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Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 4:30 am

BELTON — To truly help someone requires looking beyond a singular need and building an alliance of many.

Rita Kelley, director of Bell County Indigent Health Services, talked about indigent health and programs being put in place to serve this population during a meeting of the Central Texas Homeless Alliance.

Agencies can become too focused on who can lay claim to a patient, Kelley said. “This isn’t a contest.”

At the end of the day, Kelley said she wants to know people are getting served and the indigent program is a good steward of its resources.

The Bell County Indigent Health Services office processes client and jail inmate health care claims and also works with other departments on a number of issues, including pauper burials.

“The thing that keeps me the busiest is working out in the community, coordinating services and collaborating on programs, whether it’s homelessness or health care,” Kelley said. “It can be anything that’s related to people we serve.”

Household composition drives program eligibility and those with children and income that meet the qualifications are referred to Medicaid.

“Dirt poor” is the income requirement for assistance from County Indigent Health Services, Kelley said.

“If you work about 10 to 12 hours at minimum wage, you will not be eligible for indigent health care if you are a single individual,” Kelley said.

Bell County residency is a requirement for the local program and can be difficult to verify for people who move often.

“Most of our folks double up with someone because they can’t afford to live anywhere else,” Kelley said.

Not everyone who applies for indigent care services will have proper identification or income verification.

The recent implementation of the Medicaid Transformation 1115 Waiver is the first time Texas counties have a trusted system that enables them to put up dollars to pull federal funding back that can be used as the county sees fit.

The county spends between $3.5 million and $4 million a year on indigent health care services.

Some of the additional waiver money is being used to pay for uncompensated hospital care at Scott & White, Seton, Metroplex and Cedar Crest, Kelley said.

The waiver also funds Delivery System Reform Incentive Payments, which consider new and better ways to provide health care for the low-income, uninsured, Medicaid and the indigent health care population, Kelley said.

The goal is to have team navigation that will include agencies that work with the various needs of the poor, including housing, medical and more, she said.

Healthcare providers in the community worked together to execute the new programs and a collaborative spirit made it all possible, Kelley said.

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