Wichita Co. leaders trying to improve low-income health care, save tax payer dollars

Updated: Jun. 2, 2017 at 6:42 PM CDT
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WICHITA COUNTY, TX (KAUZ) - Leaders across Wichita County are working to make big changes to indigent, or low-income health care.

The county spent $760,000 on its services in 2016 and leaders think they could cut that by 40-percent in the future.

It would do more than just save the tax payers a lot of money.

It would also improve the services by making it faster, leading to people dropping off indigent care.

This movement was started by Wichita County Precinct 1 Commissioner, Mark Beauchamp, once he saw how much the county was spending.

"When you open that first bi-weekly bill and see that it's about and inch-and-a-half to two inches thick and it's for over $30,000 dollars for two weeks, you just think wow," Commissioner Beauchamp said.

The county is on pace to spend more on indigent care in 2017 than they did last year.

That is why Commissioner Beauchamp decided to learn about the issue and reach out to others.

"It started out as we really need to help lower tax dollars because of budget cuts," Laci Edwards with the Wichita County Health District said. "And through our conversations, it became so much more."

Right now the county pay's thousands for prescription drugs.

DeeDee McKinney with the Community Health Center said Chantix costs $350 dollars each prescription.

A patient covered by the county that is seen at the center only has to pay $50 dollars if they don't qualify for any programs and only $10 dollars if they do.

Commissioner Beauchamp said one option for the county is to pay the co-pay and for the services to be free.

It is something that excites Edwards.

"Wichita County, little Wichita County, is leading the way in things that big cities have not been able to accomplish," Edwards said. "This has not been done. So if we can do this here, we can share this model and share what we are doing."

Commissioner Beauchamp said he is still learning more but believes people are encouraged by the momentum.

"We are just tickled to have somebody that wants to tackle that and take it on," Barry Mahler, Wichita County Precinct 3 Commissioner said. "And he's done some outstanding work."

"I'm really excited that we're making a big change in the indigent health office," Commissioner Beauchamp said. "And I think everybody down there is excited too to see the challenges ahead."

McKinney told Newschannel 6 she is ecstatic to work with the county on this and said many groups will be meeting on a quarterly basis to keep the progress going.

Edwards said it is not often you can provide better health care and save the tax payers this much money.

She added their focus is on how to better the community that they love.

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