Mesa commission mulls management change for county employees’ health clinic

Mesa County may swap the out-of-state management of its employee health clinic for a local provider.

Indiana-based Novia CareClinics has operated a local facility that provides basic care, lab work and medications for people on the county’s health insurance plan since it opened in November 2010.

County commissioners decided to re-evaluate their contract with Novia after Mesa County Assistant Director of Human Resources Sheryl Coffey told the board last month that the county anticipates a medical plan deficit in 2013 for the first time since the clinic opened.

Commissioners met Monday afternoon to discuss clinic proposals from local health care providers Community Hospital and Primary Care Partners. Community estimated its clinic services would cost the county $658,522 next year, while Primary Care Partners estimated its services at $754,553.

Novia estimated its contract would cost the county $719,482 next year if the county retained the company’s services.

Both Community Hospital and Primary Care Partners proposed the county abandon its clinic site at 1060 Orchard Ave. and use their respective buildings and physicians for clinic care. Primary Care Partners would offer basic care through any of its 54 physicians who are currently taking patients.

Community proposed a model similar to the one it offers School District 51, which allows county employees to visit a dozen physicians at Grand Valley Primary Care for clinic services, use urgent care or its emergency room for basic services after hours.

That 24/7 aspect and the lower contract price attracted Commissioner Rose Pugliese to the Community proposal.

“I’d be fine going with either one, I just don’t think you can ignore the potential cost savings,” she said.

Commissioner John Justman also said he favors the Community proposal.

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca, though, said he preferred Primary Care Partners’ proposal because it offers a greater variety of practitioners and more than half of people on Mesa County health insurance already see Primary Care Partners physicians for their medical needs, including services not provided by the clinic. Acquafresca added he had a bad experience with Community’s billing department within the last six years.

“It’s not my first choice but I’ll support it,” he said. “I’ll support it because it’s a good choice. I want to bring (clinic management) back to the community.”

The commissioners plan to vote on the clinic’s future provider on Monday.


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