The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

August 16, 2013

River Hills to reduce cost for county-referred patients

OTTUMWA — A new agreement between Wapello County and River Hills could lessen the financial blow on the county's budget from the mental health redesign.

River Hills Community Health Center is offering an agreement with Wapello County's Central Point of Coordination, Jail and General Assistance offices to provide them with medical, dental and behavioral health services "for the patients they want to refer to us that they're financially responsible for under the code of Iowa," said River Hills CEO Rick Johnson.

The Wapello County Board of Supervisors will consider the contract at its meeting Tuesday.

"We're trying to partner with Wapello County to give them a reduced rate for services they're going to have to pay for when they refer people to our clinic in Ottumwa," Johnson said.

While an official contract was never in place, River Hills had accepted referrals from the county, but as more and more are being referred from the jail, CPC and GA, Johnson said an agreement needed to be secured with a bill.

"We can't give a government entity a sliding fee discount like we give individual patients ... but we can contractually agree on some other figure to provide services to the population they refer to us," he said. "It should be a good thing for the county and give them a pretty good reduction in what we charge for providing those services.

"We all work together for the same purpose of giving people quality care, but we don't want to charge them the full fee for everything because they are a government entity and they're limited on funds."

The statewide mental health reform, which takes effect in July, places counties into regions of mental health services and will change how many clients each county serves and how much funding they'll receive. Wapello County now falls into the South-Central Behavioral Health Region with Appanoose and Davis counties.

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