Facing budget shortfalls, many county and district health departments cut hours and staff

Reduced hours and staff will be the new reality for many
health departments across Kentucky starting in July as they deal with funding
shortages and changes.

Though the total amount of state funding to local health
departments has not gone down, the way it is allocated has changed. “Part of
the new formula took into account the population served and percentage of
population below the poverty level,” reports Beth Musgrave for the Lexington
Herald-Leader
. Counties that serve more “working poor” — people who are
employed but don’t have insurance — were hit the hardest by the reformulation.

Kentucky’s move to managed care for its Medicaid recipients
also affected funding because reimbursement rates went down. Meanwhile,
retirement and health insurance costs continue to go up.
There are 59 county and district health departments in
Kentucky, all of which are funded partly by local property taxes, ranging from 1.8 cents to 4 cents per $100 worth of property. With the recession, local tax revenues have decreased, contributing to
funding shortfalls.
Musgrave reports of furloughs, staff cuts and program cuts
in various counties surrounding Lexington. Local news outlets should look at what is
happening to health departments in their areas. (Read more
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