County joins PrimeWest for health care

County commissioners on Tuesday approved a resolution to join PrimeWest Health for administering public health care in Lyon County at a cost of $2.4 million in capital reserves.

The decision was unanimous, but it wasn’t easy. There was considerable confusion in the room about when the payments from the county would be due.

Commissioner Charlie Sanow made a motion to approve the agreement. But immediately uncertainty arose about the payment schedule.

Commissioner Rick Anderson pointed to a paragraph in the agreement which appeared to demand an immediate payment of over $1 million with a second payment due in 2020. County Attorney Rick Maes recited the payment schedule and questioned whether it had been discussed previously.

The ensuing confusion prompted Sanow to rescind his motion. “Until that stuff is clarified, I guess I’d have to withdraw my motion,” Sanow interjected.

“I need to know whether we need to pay the million dollars right now or not. There needs to be a discussion.”

Commissioners pointed out that Lyon County’s obligation actually would be closer to $2.1 million because Southern Prairie would pick up a portion of the bill on behalf of the county.

Commissioner Steve Ritter said he had opposed the agreement in a previous meeting because he couldn’t get an answer to how much Lyon County would benefit by being a member of PrimeWest.

“I’d like to have that discussion with somebody. I’d like somebody from SouthWest here, or PrimeWest here,” Ritter repeated.

Sanow answered that a cost-benefit analysis is difficult to do over several counties and that exact benefits can’t be determined because we don’t know what medical claims will arise in the future. He said Nobles County had determined their savings was $120,000 per year, minimum. Sanow also pointed out that PrimeWest pays higher fees to medical providers, which helps keep them in town.

It also reduces patient travel to distant treatment centers at Lyon County expense. Commissioners wanted to delay action until the payment schedule could be clarified, but Anderson said there was a time constraint with PrimeWest and they needed to deal with it. So Sanow made a new motion to approve the resolution with a provision that the first payment wouldn’t be due until the second half of next year. After further discussion, the commissioners finally agreed this was the intent of the original motion.

PrimeWest Health enrolls eligible families in the services of Minnesota’s Families and Children, MinnesotaCare, Minnesota Senior Health Options, Minnesota Senior Care Plus, and Special Needs BasicCare.

The partnership is owned by the 13 counties it serves. Lyon County is looking to become the 14th member.

County addresses forfeited property and squatters

County commissioners on Tuesday took steps that should lead to the demolition of two forfeited houses at 79 E. Cottonwood St. in Cottonwood and 601 4th Street in Garvin. Asbestos will have to be removed from one of the houses.

The City of Cottonwood has offered to share in the expense of demolishing the house there.

When asked by the commissioners if the forfeited properties belonged to the county or the city, Auditor-Treasurer E.J. Moberg replied, “Once they’ve gone forfeit, in theory we [the county] could be held responsible to clean them up entirely.”

The commissioners praised the City of Cottonwood and appreciated their assistance in the project.

Another two forfeited properties are still occupied by their former owners, despite eviction letters from the county with deadlines that have passed.

Commissioners discussed the careful procedures which must be followed. County Attorney Rick Maes cut through the polite conversation to the bottom line, stating, “They’re squatters.”

In other action, the board:

• Increased assessments for several joint and county ditches including additional increases from two months ago to ditches numbers 29 and 34.

• Accepted a bid from D&G Excavating to haul gravel at the landfill.

• Agreed to legacy funding for phase II development at Twin Lakes Park.

This will develop nature adventure activities. • Purchased six trucks for the highway department and hired two new drivers.

• Approved a petition for an improvement of Lyon-Redwood County Joint Judicial Ditch No. 15.

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