Health agencies in Rockcastle, Jackson, Clay, Harlan to lose 14 employees, some environmental and food-safety inspections

In the latest example of Medicaid changes’ impact on local health departments, environmental and food-safety inspections will be reduced by layoffs in four counties served by the Cumberland Valley District Health Department, Nola Sizemore of the Harlan Daily Enterprise reports. Health departments in Harlan, Rockcastle, Clay and Jackson counties will lose a total of 14 employees later this month. (Enterprise photo: Harlan County Health Department)

Health Department Interim Director Lynett Renner told Sizemore said the layoffs, along with furlough days, are a result of decreased funding and the “advent of managed care organizations” in November 2011. The agency has almost $1 million in outstanding accounts because payments from those organizations have been slow to come in. “Also, one of the things that affected the health departments tremendously is we’re the only provider in the state required to pay a Medicaid match, which means for every service we provide for a client who has Medicaid, we have to pay the state back 20 percent and that recently increased to 28 percent,” Renner said.

Renner told Sizemore that environmental services and restaurant health inspections would be most affected, adding that public health is often taken for granted by the local community. “So much is done behind the scenes to ensure the health and safety of every citizens,” she told Sizemore. “My fear is they’re reducing the ability of the public health infrastructure to be able to maintain that level of service that provides protection.” (Read more)

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