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Indigent Care fund runs short again

Nancy Dallas

YERINGTON – It appears an additional $117,400 will be needed to cover Lyon County’s share of what it costs to pay for those with long-term medical problems who cannot pay their bills.

However, for the first time since the assistance program began in1995, Lyon County will not be asking for help from the state. Last month the commissioners approved the transfer of $200,000 from the 2000-01 contingency fund to cover anticipated shortfalls.

In 2000, the county applied for and received $42,107 from the state fund. In 1998 it received $148,343.

In view of the limited state funding available, the county opted to not present a request to the state. County Human Services Director Edrie LaVoie said the only counties applying for assistance this year are Carson City and Lincoln County. Those requests total more than $300,000 and there is only $210,000 available in the assistance fund.

Meeting the state-mandated match of 50 percent of long-term indigent care costs is an annual problem as caseloads continue to rise. Revenues are derived from a special 10-cent property tax levy. The state receives one-cent of the levy for credit to the supplemental assistance fund.

According to LaVoie, Lyon County had 43 cases in 2000-01, an increase of approximately 20 percent over the previous year. Carson City experienced an increase of almost 54 percent and Lincoln County’s numbers rose 102 percent.

A county’s caseload can vary. While some counties may not have any long-term indigent care cases in a given year, others can be burdened with more than the tax levy can adequately cover. Each patient costs Lyon County approximately $25,000.