City skeptical of state reimbursement for indigent care

Carson City Mayor Ray Masayko said Wednesday he is skeptical the state will reimburse the city $115,000 of convalescent care costs.

However, supervisors agreed to apply to the Nevada Association of Counties indigent care relief fund in hopes they won't have to pick up the extra costs.

The city helps support 60 elderly residents not fully covered under the state's Medicaid program who can't afford all the costs of long term care. This year, Carson City is around $115,000 short of being able to pay for indigent costs and convalescent care.

Masayko noted that because Carson City raises enough money with the state-allowed 10 cent indigent care tax to match the state's contributions, the city's request might not stack up against other counties in similar circumstances.

Indigent care costs are covered in each of Nevada's 17 counties through a property tax levy between 6 and 10 cents. Carson City residents pay the full 10 cents allowed by law, earning roughly $1 million a year. County money makes up half the costs of the state program, with the other half coming from the federal government.

The relief fund was increased from $300,000 to $500,000 during the 2001 Legislature to help counties cover rising elder care costs not covered by the tax. This year, however, at least five other counties are requesting around $800,000 in help from a fund that's supposed to last through 2003.

Other counties are facing depreciating property values and are at the maximum taxing ability, both of which are issues not facing Carson City. Also, Carson City has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state and has money set aside to counter what supervisors fear will be future sales tax shortages.

With the extra funds and taxing ability, Masayko said he thinks "Carson City is in a tough position to compete."

However, Masayko noted the city may be able to get funds if the relief fund board compares Carson's total indigent care costs with that of other counties.

Last year, the city received $100,000 from the relief fund to help with a shortfall. However, the city was one of only two counties to apply.

Masayko noted funding indigent care is an issue the state will have to continue to grapple with

"The solutions to this long term are not easy or pleasant," he said.


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