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Benefit programs appear to be leveling off in county

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Reports from the Delta County Health and Human Services Department indicate program case loads are leveling off.

In recent years, there have been noticeably large increases in the number of food stamp and Medicaid cases in Delta County. Both the programs are funded 100 percent by the federal government, though the county pays costs of administering them locally.

The county's food stamp case load stood at 1,957 in October, down slightly from 1,994 the previous month, but the number is still up from 1,838 cases a year ago.

The county's medical assistance case load that includes Medicaid enrollments stood at 5,472 in October compared with 5,448 the previous month. The number was 5,053 a year earlier.

Payments under the federal Medicaid program are made directly to medical providers in the county. That includes doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers. Due to a provision in Obamacare, Medicaid enrollments have increased sharply in the last few years. Currently, Medicaid payments are believed by county HHS managers to be running at an all-time high between $2 million and $2.2 million per month. The figure does not include any payments to medical providers outside of the county who see Delta County residents as patients.

The Delta County Commissioners have received reports on other programs administered in the HHS department:

• The Colorado works program showed a case load of 94 in October compared with 103 the previous month and 109 a year earlier.

The Options for Long-Term Care (OLTC) program cited 363 active cases in October compared with 359 the previous month and 327 a year earlier.

• Food stamp benefits provided to Delta County residents have been running consistently in the $500,000 per month range for some time. The high of $520,937 occurred in February this year.

• The HHS department collected $162,805 in money that was owed for child support locally in October. Wage withholding accounted for the largest amounts collected at $101,953. The HHS department has 11 different sources for collecting the child support that is owed including IRS tax intercepts, workers compensation attachments, and money owed by residents of other states.

• The Low Income Energy Assistance Program is another one that is 100 percent funded with federal dollars. According to a recent report provided to the commissioners there was $411,977 in LEAP program benefits issued January through June this year. The figure for the same period last year was $596,469.

In a separate matter, commissioners were told of a glitch in the state's call-in line for Medicaid and other information. The 1-800 number which serves four local counties including Delta was causing long hold times for callers when advisors were available to answer calls.

The problem will be addressed and a new 1-800 number will be set up commissioners were told.

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Commissioners, Medicaid
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