TAWAS CITY – The Iosco County Board of Commissioners supported a resolution that could work to provide more funding for mental health care in Iosco County.
The resolution, as well as other actions, were conducted during the July 3 meeting. Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution, presented by AuSable Valley Community Mental Health Chief Executive Officer Diane Pelts, asking the state to remove the local match requirement for Prepaid Inpatient Health Plan, which receive Medicaid funds.
Pelts told commissioners that every year the county gives funding to help support the mental health program. She said that the local funding, however, has to be used to help pay for matching funds in order to draw down Medicaid funding.
“When this was first implemented there wasn’t as much Medicaid,” she said. But added that as Medicaid use has increased with mental health in the county, they have to give back as much as $150,000 to the state and federal government.
Pelts said if that money was not used more local funding could be used for local mental health treatment.
Pelts said she has gotten several other counties on board to ask the state legislators to take out the provision that matching funds have to be required.
“Last year we spent $11 million of our budget back into Iosco County, we would like to give this resolution and ask for your support to change the language to keep local funds local so we can expand services back into the county, to give people who are under funded or have no insurance care,” she said.
“This is a very antiquated type of funding, and we are asking for your support in letting our legislature know that you support this; it doesn’t affect the responsibility for the appropriations it would remain the same, but those funds would stay here, we would take those funds in association with the other two counties,” she said.
Pelts told commissioners that so far there are 11 counties that have signed on and have passed the resolution, and that there are at least seven other counties with pending resolutions, and said the state House and Senate have put this on their proposals for fiscal year 2020.
After brief discussion Vice Chairman Donald “Jay” O’Farrell – who is also a member of the mental health board – cast a motion to approve the resolution. He was seconded by Commissioner John Moehring. The motion passed unanimously.
“We have been looking at this for quite some time,” said O’Farrell.
Other business of the board included:
• Consumers Energy Community Affairs representative Richard Castle gave the board an update on the construction and implementation of the Tawas Field Office, located in Baldwin Township, were Consumers Energy work crews will stage to do electrical work for Iosco, Arenac and Alcona counties.
“We are building a new indoor parking area, the goal for that is to get all of our equipment into a building before winter, we are hoping to start building the office area, right now we’re working out of a mobile trailer,” Castle said, adding that it was good to have crews working back in the Tawas area.
“There are about 20 employees in that facility, including myself,” Castle said. “Our goal with the new facility is to help reduce our response times, it’s going to help Alcona and Arenac as well.”
• Iosco County Administrator/Treasurer Elite Shellenbarger discussed the county building’s parking lot project and said the lone bidder, Ogemaw Paving, came in more than $50,000 over engineer estimates at $271,000. He said the county reserves the right to reject the bidding, and recommended to commissioners that the bids be re-let in the autumn when more contracting companies are looking for projects to conduct in the psring..
“You’re going to get more bids in the fall and anyone who is going to bid this time of year is going to pay it,” Shellenbarger said. “We’re talking $50,000 over what it should be and that is money that I am not willing to give away.”
The board voted unanimously to not accept the bid and rebid the project in the fall.