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Board approves fiscal year 2012 Budget

The Central Health Board of Managers approved the organization’s fiscal year 2012 budget on Wednesday, Sept. 14. The Travis County Commissioners Court is expected to approve the budget on Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The following are highlights of Central Health’s fiscal year 2012 operating budget:

  • Includes a total tax rate of 7.89 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is 6.5% higher than the effective operations and maintenance tax rate of 7.27 cents, with an operating rate of 7.74 cents and a debt service rate of .15 cents
  • Includes the use of $19.8 million in total reserves, $12.5 million of which will come from a reserve of $27.6 million established to capitalize Sendero Health Plans www.centralhealth.net/file/fy12 budget approved.pdf over its initial five years of operation
  • Includes a total of $8.7 million more in budgeted property tax revenue, $7.3 of which is for service delivery and operations and $1.4 of which is for debt service
  • Continues the practice of budgeting additional lease revenue from University Medical Center Brackenridge and the Dell Children’s Medical Center
  • Continues the same level of enhanced primary care visits as the 2011 amended budget and includes an increased payment of $3 million to CommUnityCare for the operation of new or expanded sites
  • Continues the enhanced level of funding provided in the amended 2011 budget of $7.9 million for inpatient mental health services; and· Includes $3.0 million in unallocated service expansion funds that can be used to fund additional services or projects currently not funded in this preliminary budget.

Since its inception in 2004, Central Health has steadfastly worked to increase access to health care to those who need it most. In support of that goal, enrollment in Central Health’s coverage program, the Medical Access Program (MAP), has grown from 8,466 enrollees in 2005 to more than 20,000 in 2011, an increase of 140 percent. Over the last four fiscal years alone, Central Health has increased the number of primary care visits it funds from 177,418 in 2005 to 281,261 in 2011, an increase of almost 60 percent. Finally, Central Health has made commitments to further expand CommUnityCare, the non-profit corporation that operates 20 affiliated federally qualified health centers, which will result in serving an additional 43,000 individuals.

In fiscal year 2012, Central Health will continue to fund the expanded network of providers it has assembled over the last several years and will also fund the start-up of a Medicaid HMO, Sendero Health Plans. Sendero intends to provide Medicaid managed care services in an eight-county region here in Central Texas and will also assume the medical management of Central Health’s Medical Access Program enrollees.

“We’ve all spent a lot more time than usual in preparing this coming year’s budget and setting a tax rate. We knew Central Health would face an increased demand for our services due to the economic downturn as well as state and federal cuts to health care, but also acknowledged we had an equal commitment to the taxpayers of Travis County to propose a reasonable tax rate. After devoting several months and considering input from everyone, we feel this budget will allow us to accomplish our mission while serving the Travis County taxpayers’ best interests in 2012,” Central Health Board Treasurer Frank Rodriguez said.

Central Health defines “unmet need” to include residents of Travis County who are at or below 200 percent of theFederal poverty guidelines, who have no health coverage, and who cannot afford healthcare coverage. In Travis County this is approximately 142,000 residents and looks to be increasing. Texas has the highest such rate of uninsured or under-insured people in the nation, yet Central Health’s tax rate for healthcare services is among the lowest in the state for all major urban counties. Access to care for all residents of Travis County is essential for the overall health of the community. From children in the classroom to casual contact at a restaurant or a grocery store, we all interact with one another. The recent resurrection of communicable diseases such as whooping cough illustrates the benefit of access to affordable healthcare for all who reside within our community.

The 2011 fiscal year ends Friday, Sept. 30, and the new fiscal year begins Saturday, Oct. 1.