Davison County Commission votes to settle indigent care billDavison County faced a lawsuit from Avera McKennan Hospital over treatment of a now-deceased person.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
Following a closed session Tuesday with Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Taylor, the Davison County commissioners voted 4-0 to pay $67,952.69 to settle a long-standing indigent medical claim.
The 4-0 vote was taken during the commissioners’ weekly meeting at the courthouse. Commissioner Jerry Fischer, who was attending an emergency management conference in Yankton, was absent.
The decision to pay the medical claim was made following an executive session including the commissioners, Taylor and interim Welfare Director Dawn Grissom regarding pending litigation between the county and Avera McKennan Hospital. The litigation stemmed from claims made for treatment of a now-deceased employee of a Mexican restaurant in Mitchell.
“We have an offer from Avera McKennan hospital to settle its pending claims against the county for 50 percent of the Medicaid rate, which is $67,952.69,” Taylor said.
The county would pay that amount to Avera McKennan and then submit the bill to the catastrophic poor relief fund, a statewide insurance pool to which the county belongs. If the county’s claim is approved, Taylor said, its final bill might be reduced to $20,000 or $25,000. The insurance plan has a $20,000 deductible.
Taylor wouldn’t confirm or deny that the claim in question is for indigent payments to care for Eulalio Castellanos, who died following a long fight with leukemia. He gave only a claim processing number and the initials E.C.
In September 2009, Castellanos told The Daily Republic that his care ran up debts of $500,000 and he was doing his best to pay them off. He died that November.
A discounted bill of $149,000 was sent by Avera McKennan to Davison County for his care, the article noted at that time.
The county rejected that bill, claiming that the patient was indigent by design — that is, he could afford to purchase health insurance but chose not to do so.
Taylor on Tuesday recommended that the commissioners take the deal being offered by Avera MeKennan.
“It will resolve a number of issues we have dealing with problems of proof in our defense, regarding information that may or may not be available,” he said.
The compromise payment will also clean up additional bills of about $20,000 with Avera McKennan relating to the same case, which have been submitted but have not been processed yet by the Davison County Welfare Department.
Additional bills for caring for the same individual have been written off by Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, Taylor said. “Those will be taken off the table as well,” he said.
Taylor called the deal “a very good compromise.” He also recognized that there isn’t sufficient cash in the county’s poor relief budget to handle the payment. The commissioners, he said, “will have to move some money around and make some adjustments.”
The commissioners voted to pay the bill, but not immediately. Auditor Susan Kiepke said she must first check the county’s books and determine where the cost might best be absorbed.
In other business the commissioners:
* Approved the continuation of a scanner and microfilming contract with Micro Imagery Systems, at a cost of $635.
* Heard from Department of Health Region 6 Manager Deb Haak, who said Megan Davids has resigned as office secretary for the Davison County Community Health Office.
The salary for the job is shared between the state and the county. The state pays 60 percent of the $9.23 per hour wage and benefits, and the county pays 40 percent. The commissioners voted 4-0 to continue funding their share of the costs.
Haak said the job is being advertised and the deadline for applications is Sept. 23. The applicant must have solid computer skills.
* Approved contingency transfers for the following accounts: coroner, $2,000; mentally handicapped, $4,000; and the Mental Illness Board, $10,000.
* The commissioners noted their next scheduled meeting will be Sept. 27. They will attend the state Association of County Officials convention in Rapid City Sept. 19-21.
Sitting as the Board of Adjustment the commissioners, with votes of 4-0, approved:
* A variance of 30 feet to construct a 12-foot lean-to on an existing pole shed on the property of Darrel and Flora Semmler in Rome Township.
* A rear-yard setback variance of 6.5 feet for the construction of an 11-by-32-foot lean-to on an existing pole shed, as requested by Deono Miller for his property in Prosper Township.