Snapshot: A look at indigent health care

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

The Curry County Indigent Funds Program is to help offset the cost incurred by Plains Regional Medical Center for providing
medical care to low income residents. Curry County Indigent Administrator Lance Pyle believes many people in the community are unaware of the program.
“The indigent program can pay Medicaid deductibles and medication costs for elderly people who qualify,” Lance Pyle said. “Residents need to be
educated about this program.”

Follow the money
One-eighth of Curry County’s gross receipts tax is allocated for the Curry County indigent hospital funds program. The indigent grocery feed tax was enacted in 1984.

Plains Regional Medical Center’s role in the indigent program Plains Regional Medical Center has qualified to receive more than $1.5 million in federal funds for providing healthcare to low income residents.
PRMC is classified as a Sole Community Hospital because it is located more than 35 miles from a like hospital. Under Medicaid regulations, this qualifies the Clovis hospital to receive money through the Sole Community Provider fund. According to PRMC administrator Hoyt Skabelund, the funds are vital to the hospital because they subsidize the hospital for providing quality healthcare.
“Without the funds we (PRMC) would be closed or scaled back significantly,” Hoyt Skabelund said. “These funds are key.”

How to qualify
• Individuals must prove residency (90 days or beyond) in Curry County. Utility bills, mortgage contract, automobile loans, baby-sitter receipts or two notarized proof of residency forms may be completed by non-relatives can be used.
• A married couple’s income can not exceed $24,500 annually.
• Single residents income can not exceed $16,000 annually.
• Curry County must receive an indigent application within 90 days after dismissal from the hospital. The six page application is available at PRMC and La Casa.

Curry County Indigent Fund cost
• $318,509 — Sole Community Provider Fund
• $153,880 — Supplemental Sole Community Provider Fund

A breakdown of the money PRMC will receive in 2005-2006:
• $1.13 — Sole Community Provider Fund
• $533,381 — Supplemental Sole Community Provider Fund

By the numbers
10 — indigent patients referred to Covenant Hospital in Lubbock
16 — indigent claims denied in the last fiscal year528 — indigent claims approved last year
2,000 — indigent patients that receive medical care at Plains Regional Medical Center in a year
$856,373 — amount Curry County paid for indigent claims