County OKs clinic deal with hospital

Mesa County commissioners on Monday approved a contract to have Community Hospital become the exclusive medical provider for employees and their families insured by the county.

The clinic program will provide insured county employees and their families with free generic prescriptions through Orchard Pharmacy, basic tests, medical condition consulting services and access to physicians at Grand Valley Primary Care. Preventive care visits are free, diagnostic visits cost $10 and, when Primary Care is closed, visits to Grand Valley Urgent Care or the hospital’s emergency room for basic medical needs will cost $30 apiece.

County employees can use other medical providers but may be charged higher co-pays to do so. In exchange for encouraging exclusivity, the hospital will give the county discounted rates for inpatient and outpatient services. The county has budgeted $650,000 for the agreement in 2014.

The new contract starts Jan. 1, when it will replace the services provided since late 2010 at a county employee clinic at 1060 Orchard Ave. The Indiana-based administrator of that clinic, Novia CareClinics, LLC, projected earlier this year the clinic would cost $719,482 to operate in 2014, while Community’s proposal estimated its services at existing sites would cost the county $574,250 next year.

Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said he voted against the original Novia contract because he believed a local provider could come up with a better clinical services offer for county employees if given more time. He said the Novia clinic had some issues but he would still recommend Novia to other government entities. However, he looks forward to switching to a Grand Junction-based provider.

“I think we’re getting a better clinic deal — more services, available 24/7, which has never been done before, and we’re getting a better price,” Acquafresca said.

Commissioners switched Monday from an original proposal that the county or hospital give each other 180 days notice of contract cancelation to an agreement that only 90 days notice is needed if either side wants to end the deal. Acquafresca said 60 days is the typical notice period for cancelation of contracts involving the county.

“We decided 180 days is excessive,” he said. “Sixty days is probably more typical but given the complex nature and importance to both parties, we decided 90 days made sense.”


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