Happy September and hope you enjoyed a great and somewhat cool Labor Day weekend and holiday. Guess if you were indoors, you may have.
Temperatures are reaching into the hundreds in some areas around our state, and rain has been scarce in most parts of Texas. Ranchers and other small farmers are struggling with hay and crop fields along with the overall needs of their livestock. Many are being forced to sell off their cattle, and the price of produce and other goods is expected to rise because of the lack of rain. The number of wildfires is also picking up, so let us please spread the word to our friends and residents to be cautious with our outdoor activities. Please pray that the Good Lord will send us some rain soon.
Outside of our county’s usual budget preparations, which take place during this time of year, Hays County has been working diligently to prepare our portion of a Regional Health Plan that will establish methods and mechanisms to improve healthcare in our region. Late last year, the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services approved a Section 1115 Waiver for the State of Texas, which will allow Texas to conduct demonstration projects with Medicaid and Medicare funds that may otherwise conflict with certain provisions of the Social Security Act. As many of you may have heard, the state recently extended the deadline for submittal of Regional Health Plans from Aug. 31 to Oct. 31. I believe it was realized, since this is so new, that participants needed additional time to develop their individual plans.
Hays County is a part of the Region 7 Regional Healthcare Partnership (RHP) and our Anchor Entity is Central Health of Travis County. Central Health is responsible for certain administrative tasks, including holding meetings, collecting and reporting data, and communicating with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Hays County has officially adopted a resolution in support of the county’s participation in the RHP, and we are currently considering participating and partnering with our local hospital, Central Texas Medical Center (CTMC), to provide expanded services per the waiver requirements. In recent years, Hays County taxpayers have funded approximately $2 million per year for healthcare services to our citizens. Our goal now is to identify ways to incorporate these funds into the demonstration projects outlined in the 1115 Waiver. We believe this is a great way to magnify our dollars which will enhance access to healthcare, provide the ability to increase efficiencies in healthcare delivery systems, and create cost-effective solutions to increase the quality of healthcare for the citizens of Hays County. All this can and will be accomplished without additional burden to our taxpayers and without increasing our tax rate. Draft plans of Hays County’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Projects (DSRIP) were due Aug. 3to Central Health. It has been a challenging process for Texas counties, though many of us are close to accomplishing our goals. I hope this has been helpful as your county prepares for these new changes, challenges and opportunities.
Our CJCAT Annual Conference is right around the corner, so if you have not yet registered, please do so. We hope you will be able to attend this fun, educational event, to take place in San Marcos, Hays County, at our beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center, Oct. 1-4. Hope to see you there!
Blessings to all.