Challenges of providing health care for Delta County residents will be compounded in future because of the federal Affordable Care Act, and also by local economic and demographic trends.
Delta County Economic Development has recognized the issue and is trying to find ways to blunt its impacts.
DCED's vice president Tom Huerkamp outlined some of the problems and an initiative being considered to deal with them during the January meeting of the Orchard City Board of Trustees.
Huerkamp asked for and received a commitment from Orchard City to write a letter of support for an $85,000 grant application to U.S. Health and Human Services to try to start developing a network program that could eventually include numerous medical practices in Delta County.
The grant funds would create a study and/or plan for a central facility and staff to handle billing and purchasing functions for small offices thus lowering costs to local providers.
Local governments including Delta County and the Town of Orchard City have signed on with moral support for the grant application by DCED, intended to help local medical practices achieve economies of scale.
Explaining the need for the grant, Huerkamp told the trustees, "Obamacare is contributing to a crisis at hand in county health care. There is a major issue in the North Fork which is under served" by medical services.
He said that "Seven family practice doctors have left Delta County. Others are not taking Medicare or Medicaid. Some of them are accepting cash only. We are at risk in this county of losing primary health care."
There will be 15 of the $85,000 grants awarded by the federal government, he said. An appeal letter for political support of the DCED application states, "With major changes occurring in the national health care system, this grant is viewed as a critical opportunity for Delta County to address the many challenges that we face in providing sustainable and affordable health care services. This is especially important in the North Fork Valley where providers are barely skirting the edge of profitability.
"The grant is for the development of a rural health network with the following objectives:
• Achieving efficiencies in the delivery of health care in rural communities;
• Expand access to coordinate and improve the quality of essential health care;
• And, strengthen the rural health care system as a whole."
DCED has secured other support for its grant application and the following organizations have agreed to partner in the application, according to DCED: Delta County Memorial Hospital, Delta Family Physicians, Delta County Health Department, Needle Rock Family Health Clinic, HopeWest Hospice, Center for Medical Health, Colorado Rural Health Center, Delta County Ambulance District, North Fork Ambulance, North Fork Medical Clinic.blog comments powered by Disqus