Indigent Health Care Moves Back to County Judge's Office; Harbison Presides Over First Meeting

January 12, 2015 - After much discussion Commissioners' Court approved a motion to move Indigent Health Care back to the County Judge's office which unfortunately eliminates one county employee's position.

Shelby County Judge Allison Harbison presided over her first Commissioners' Court meeting Monday morning, January 12, 2015. A main item of discussion on the agenda pertained to Indigent Health Care (IHC). Harbison said, "The Indigent Health Care program is up-to-date. It actually took one day, less than one day, for everything in there to be caught up through September forward. Because there were things from September that had not been put into the computer. We are staffing an employee and a half in a position that is a part-time position. And I just do not think that is wise use of county funds."

 Commissioner Precinct 1, Roscoe McSwain expounded on IHC explaining the results of research he has done concerning the office and how many applications are accepted, "On a year average, we average maybe 10 applications a week." He continued saying of those 10 applications maybe 6 of them is actually entered into the system because the other four applications are incomplete and the information isn't entered in the system until the application is complete. He estimated thirty minutes to key in each completed application. Roscoe finished, "With that being said, I think that is enough to explain its hard to justify having a person and a half do a part-time job."

Commissioner Precinct 3, Travis Rodgers, expressed concern saying, "How do you know for sure how many applications [the county is] going to get." He continued voicing his concern if an applicant comes into the judge's office needing help and the secretary is busy doing county judge work instead.

Harbison responded, "I've hired a secretary who is computer literate and is willing to learn the job. Back when Judge Watson was in office, the judge's office handled Indigent Health Care, 9-1-1, and secretary for the judge. Right now my secretary is twiddling her thumbs because there is just not that many things that come through that she needs to do. She is willing to learn this program. And the new treasurer said when she gets an assistant, she will learn the new program. I've actually looked at the new program and it is very easy to do. You just plug in numbers and names."

Harbison went on to explain she has set a time frame of two days for all completed applications to be entered into the system and feels that goal will not be a problem to meet especially with various county employees willing to step up and assist with entering the applications in the event her secretary isn't available. She finished saying, "I just think it would be better use for county funds to not have a full-time person in Indigent Health Care and spread the work around. Because the more people that are looking at it, the less problem you will have of things that have happened before in Indigent Health Care which has been misappropriations of funds. So, I'm offering up my secretary and when [County Treasurer Ann Blackwell] hires an assistant, I'm sure she is offering up her assistant to learn the program." She finished saying, "I have a hard time staffing a position that is not needed when there are things needed in other parts of the County."

McSwain made a multi-part motion, "Concerning Indigent Health Care, we are going to have the oversight being the (County) Judge and [Commissioner Travis Rodgers] and we are going to move Indigent Health Care back to the judge's office, judge's secretary and a part-time employee downstairs will receive the applications and process them as far as they can go and this will be effective January 16th, so, we will have to terminate one position, one full-time position, in Indigent Health Care." Commissioner Precinct 2, Jimmy Lout seconded the motion.

Rodgers asked for more discussion following which time, McSwain and Lout voted for and Rodgers and Commissioners Precinct 4, Bradley Allen voted against. With the tied votes cast by the Commissioners, Judge Harbison passed the motion with a for vote.

Prior to the IHC discussion, County Treasurer, Ann Blackwell, addressed the court. "When I saw the mountain of paper that y'all received every month, I was just trying to give you the same information without you having to go through so much paper work." She continued, "What I changed was instead of you getting a full, about 500 page detail budget, what I'm giving you is a cash flow analysis. This is every account that falls under the umbrella of the county. (It) has your beginning balance, all your receipts for the month, your expenses whether they were [accounts payable] checks, payroll checks or journal payments, and your ending balances and its broken down by checking account and there are actually a couple of different ways its broken down." Blackwell finished saying, "I want to give you what you need but not more than you need." The minimized report will save the county money in paper cost as well as use of copier machine.

McSwain responded, "I want to commend you on this spreadsheet. It's very knowledgeable and very easy to read."

Before returning to her seat in the audience, Blackwell said, "I would like to also just say publicly that I appreciate so much outgoing Treasurer Joan Rodgers for letting me come in early and help me and show me some things. I really appreciate her."

Next item mentioned was regarding the City of Center Electronics Recycling Day program scheduled for Saturday, January 24th. Commissioner McSwain and Commissioner Precinct 3, Travis Rodgers, will both have their dumpsters available to the public on the day of the recycling program to help with disposal of items which don't qualify for the Electronics Recycling program.

Agenda items receiving approval include:

1) Approved minutes of previous meetings, December 8th Regular Meeting and December 22nd Special Meeting
 2) Approved Officer's Report - County collected $1,216,662.96in the month of December 2014
 4) Approved to pay monthly expenses
 6) Approved Commissioner Rodgers to sell an FG85B maintainer to be sold "as-is"
 7) Indigent Health Care Program
 - Approved oversight of the Indigent Health Care (IHC) Program by County Judge and Commissioner Rodgers.
 - Approved County Judge to be in charge of the daily activities of IHC staff.
 - Approved moving IHC back to County Judges Office and eliminating one full-time position effective Friday, January16.
 8) Approved adjusting ambulance subsidy to come out of Indigent Health Care fund instead of the Contingency fund and to credit the Contingency fund back for one month payment.

Items reported to the court

3) County Treasurer Ann Blackwell presented a minimized financial statement to the court asking if they approved the new reporting format.
 5) City of Center Electronics Recycling Day scheduled for Saturday, January 24th.