City increases fees
The fee to reconnect water and gas service in Thomson will double to $40 per occurrence starting this month. City Administrator Bob Flanders said of the seven nearby communities he surveyed, Thomson was lowest - by $55 in one case. The $40 fee to turn water and gas back on after non-payment in particular puts the city right in the median.
Meanwhile, Thomson City Council members will be voting on proposed increases in building permit fees. Mr. Flanders again compared local rates to those in Richmond, Columbia and Lincoln counties and found the city to be lower in several areas.
For example, building permits for single family residential construction will increase a penny per roofed square foot to 8 cents. Electrical, plumbing, and mechanical fees will increase from $35 to $50 each in April, if approved.
Hospital receives reimbursement
McDuffie Regional Medical Center was one of 149 Georgia hospitals to receive a portion of $3.3 million in funding to help prepare for a pandemic flu epidemic.
The Georgia Hospital Association awarded McDuffie Regional $16,360 to reimburse the local hospital for costs associated with performing certain emergency management functions, such as establishment of plans and exercises and the acquisition of protective equipment, antibiotics, surge capacity support and other planning costs.
McDuffie's share was based in part on their participation in a three-day statewide influenza exercise and for sharing their flu plan with the Georgia Hospital Association. The local hospital also met requirements for the purchase of supplies and uploaded their plans to the proper authorities.
Joseph Parker, president of the hospital association in Georgia, commended the efforts of these hospitals in continuing to build their emergency preparedness programs and their willingness to be part of the mutual aid compact.
County feels Medicaid pinch
McDuffie County public health administrators are now beginning to feel the bite from the privatization of Medicaid.
On September 1, the McDuffie County Health Department experienced a decrease in case load as the state allowed case management organizations to care for some patients who did not require face to face medical services. The result has been a reduction in reimbursements and, in many cases, the increased delay of Medicaid payments back to McDuffie County.
East Central Georgia Health District Administrator Barbara Spires prepares the financial records for McDuffie County and said the pinch is being felt everywhere, even in the private sector. Some local health officials say case management organizations are one way for the state to handle the task of managing Medicaid dollars. They add, however, that it is certainly not the best way for everyone involved.
McDuffie County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton is meeting with district and local public health leaders to ascertain which adjustments are needed in this budget year. Other counties in Georgia have been under the new Medicaid system since June.