Mesa County eyes local vendor for employee health clinic

Mesa County commissioners are poised to select a local vendor to manage the county’s employee health clinic.

Indiana-based Novia CareClinics opened the clinic in November 2010 at 1060 Orchard Ave. and has managed it ever since through a contract with the county. The clinic provides basic care, lab work and prescription drugs to employees enrolled in the county’s medical insurance plan.

After discovering earlier this month that this is the first year since the clinic opened that the county may face a deficit in its medical insurance budget, commissioners asked staff to see if they could save more on medical expenses by seeking a different clinic vendor. On Monday, Mesa County Assistant Director of Human Resources Sheryl Coffey and Chris Muender, a Chicago-based benefits consultant for the county from Seltz Insurance Consulting, presented commissioners with an analysis of bids from four potential clinic vendors: Novia, HealthStat of North Carolina and Grand Junction’s Community Hospital and Primary Care Partners.

Novia’s proposal would continue operations at the clinic as normal and cost the county an estimated $719,482 next year, based on Novia’s clinic visits and expenses in 2012. Coffey anticipates the clinic will spend $765,000 in 2013.

Community Hospital and Primary Care Partners each had two proposals. The least expensive option would be the hospital’s bid to abandon the current clinic location and send county employees to visit one physician at the Mesa County Health Department for an estimated $574,250 next year. The possibility that hosting a clinic within a county building may make some employees uncomfortable or fear other employees would see their records makes that an undesirable option, Coffey said.

“There are some very serious HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) concerns that I just don’t think we’d be able to get over that,” she said. “Even though you can remind them of HIPAA and assure them that their records are protected, I think there’s some comfort in knowing it’s off-site.”

Community’s other proposal, which would cost a projected $658,521 next year, would send employees to Grand Valley Primary Care at 603 28 1/4 Road to get care from a dozen physicians who already work there. The hospital is considering hiring three more physicians if the county signs a clinic contract with them, according to Coffey. She added county employees would have to get their prescriptions filled at a separate location, which would be a change from the current one-stop clinic offerings.

Primary Care Partners proposed one option that would provide access to one physician at an unspecified site and another option that would provide care access at PCP’s existing offices. The second proposal would cost an estimated $754,553 in 2014 and offer access to any of the group’s 54 physicians who are accepting patients.

HealthStat has the most expensive proposal at nearly $800,000 to provide a model of care similar to what is currently available at the clinic.

Commissioners Steve Acquafresca and Rose Pugliese said Monday they are leaning toward Community Hospital’s and Primary Care Partners’ bids that would offer care, lab work and prescriptions on-site instead of at the Orchard Avenue clinic. Pugliese said she likes the price on Community’s bid and the variety of physicians in Primary Care Partners’ proposal.

Commissioner John Justman said he also likes Community’s bid price and that it would offer medical access around the clock through using the hospital’s emergency room as back-up when Grand Valley Primary Care is closed.

Commissioners are expected to select a bid proposal Aug. 12 and formally approve the decision at an Aug. 19 public hearing.


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