Missing from the discussions about healthcare reform and the possible merger of Mountain States Health Alliance with Wellmont Health Systems is a look at how much money, and its share by local counties is at play. That’s a big deal because health care has replaced manufacturing as the local economy heavyweight.
Thanks to the number crunchers at the National Association of Counties (NACo) some benchmarking of the 2015 federal government payments to health care is available on the County Explorer site. That benchmark is limited because data for Washington County VA were not available. Federal payments have taken on a higher profile in the evolving story of what Congress will do about health care.
During 2015 federal medical payments in the Tri-Cities were almost $2 billion. Of that, a little over 61% was for Medicare. NACo defines that Medicare outlay as federal government payments made directly or through intermediaries to vendors for the care provided to individuals under the Medicare program, which is basically the health care program for retirees.
Federal government medical benefits to low-income individuals, comprised of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits accounted for 37.2% of the total.
The rest went for vendor payments made under the TRICARE Management Program, formerly called the Civilian Health and Medical Plan of the Uniformed Services, for the medical care of dependents of active duty military personnel and of retired military personnel and their dependents at nonmilitary medical facilities.
As you might expect, Sullivan County claims the lion’s share of federal medical benefits across the board with the exception of the military component. Washington County, home to the local VA, is the leader in that category, but not by much.
Here’s how the federal healthcare payments looked like based on the most current NACo examination.
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