Board of Health opts to renew health insurance

LISBON – In order to be grandfathered in and avoid some of the money issues projected by the Affordable Care Act, the Columbiana County Board of Health on Wednesday voted to renew their health insurance policy now.

Fiscal Officer Cis Donahey and Commissioner Wesley Vins explained to the board their insurance carrier had urged them to renew now, prior to Sept. 27, in order to lock in rates.

Still, the new policy, which will run from Dec. 1, 2013 to Dec. 1, 2014, will cost the health department a $1,537 per month increase. Donahey said 80 percent of that is due to federally mandated fees, put in place by Obamacare.

“Over the next 12 months it will cost this community $10,000 in local tax dollars to pay federal fees,” Vins said.

Following the meeting, Vins pointed out the increase in insurance will have to come out of the general fund, leaving less money for purchases like immunizations for children.

When this policy expires, Donahey said the department could see even more increases if the health care laws remain in effect. Next year, the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, will require the health department to purchase certain policies for their employees, including mandated minimal deductibles and a maximum amount which can be covered by a health reimbursement account.

The board voted to renew the health insurance at this point.

In other matters before the board:

– A rabies prevention clinic for cats and dogs will be held from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 5 at the county Career and Technical Center. Cost is $5 per dose.

Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be confined or in a cage. The clinic will be a combined effort of the health department, the Lisbon Veterinary Clinic and the Career Center students.

Vins said while there have been no rabies cases in Columbiana County this year, Mahoning County has had five and there was one confirmed in Trumbull County. All dogs, cats and ferrets need to be vaccinated.

– Vins said he has been meeting with East Palestine officials concerned about the dust nuisance from trains coming through town. In the past, Vins said, it is possible train cars with open tops had dust inhibitor applied to the cargo, but now it appears this is no longer the case.

– The board voted to change the personal checks policy, no longer accepting them as payment until they have already cleared from the bank.

Donahey said people have been paying with checks which are being returned for insufficient funds and it costs the health department more than the amount of the check to attempt to collect on it. The department will now accept Ohio business checks, money orders, certified bank checks and cash.

Board President Shawn Apple questioned why they are no longer accepting credit cards. Vins pointed out the credit card system worked well, but the department was not doing a large enough volume of charges and the company came back for the machine. Apple said if the department no longer accepts personal checks, more people may want the credit card option. Vins said he would look at it again.