Joe P. Asher
Health insurance concerns for Harlan County employees were discussed during a meeting of the Harlan Fiscal Court on Thursday.
According to Ed Lyttle, the county’s insurance agent, quotes have been requested, but they do not have all of them back yet.
“We’ve quoted all four major carriers in the state,” said Lyttle. “In the past we’ve always had a committee we’ve worked with…and we’d like to that instead of bringing all this to you guys at one time.”
Lyttle pointed out such a committee would allow for a more efficient process in choosing an insurance carrier.
Harlan County Treasurer Ryan Creech said a decision will have to be made concerning insurance costs.
“It’s my thoughts that we can’t afford to pay over $500 a month for employees health insurance,” stated Creech. “We’re still waiting on these quotes to come back in, but I’m not anticipating them being under $500 based on what we’ve seen so far.”
Creech explained they are looking into different options, including the possibility offering a selection of plans to employees. If the county decides to follow this option, the county would pay a set amount, leaving it up to the individual employee to decide how much they would pay based on which plan the employee chooses.
“It’s my suggestion that we eventually go that route,” stated Creech.
The court looked into possible ways of reducing cost at the Harlan County Jail.
“In the jail fund our routine medical is set at $150,000, it may not even be close to that or it may double that, you just never know,” said Creech.
Magistrate Jonathan Pope inquired about the possibility of using a nurse practitioner as on-site medical care.
“Would it be cheaper to use a nurse practitioner at the jail?” inquired Pope.
Creech pointed out this has been tried before.
“We have a nurse on staff,” stated Creech. “We tried to do a contract with a nurse practitioner probably two or three years ago, maybe longer than that. But we tried it and it did not really work in our favor.”
Creech explained the nurse practitioner turned out to be a more expensive option.
“All that was happening was the nurse practitioner would see them first, send us a bill, and then send them to the hospital,” explained Creech.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop pointed out this was only part of the entire picture.
“What about those that got taken care of and turned back, you don’t know that number,” stated Grieshop. “We’re looking at one side of the issue.”
Creech explained the reasoning behind hiring a registered nurse rather than a nurse practitioner.
“The reason Curt (Stallard, Harlan County Jailer) hired a registered nurse to work at the jail was to try to limit the number of visits to the ER,” clarified Creech.
In other Fiscal Court activity:
* The court agreed to to set a meeting to discuss an EPA required five-year plan for solid waste management;
* A motion was made and passed to approve an update of the solid waste management plan;
* A motion was made and passed to adopt a proposed salary scale for the county garage effective July 1, with the condition that other positions be reviewed and updated;
* A motion was made and passed to create an administrative assistant position in the county road garage. This is to be a salaried position with the salary set by July 1.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-573-4510 or firstname.lastname@example.org