Meeting takes Medicaid theme

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 2, 2007

WINTON – There was a theme in Hertford County Monday morning.

The local Board of Commissioners discussed the county’s share of Medicaid no less than four times during their regular meeting.

The first came when Representative Annie W. Mobley (D-5th) was formally introduced to Hertford County’s governing body.

After her introduction, Mobley said she would be glad to work with the group in any way she could.

Commissioner Dupont A. Davis quickly pointed out that the board needed Mobley’s help with relieving local governments of the burden of Medicaid costs.

“North Carolina is the only state that passes on the cost of Medicaid to local governments,” Davis pointed out. “It is very costly to the county and the citizens.”

Mobley said she had looked at the information when it was passed out in the General Assembly.

“We are a poor county and most of our money goes to Medicaid,” he said. “The big counties don’t pay attention to that.”

Commissioner Johnnie R. Farmer echoed those thoughts.

“We’ve been working on this since I became a commissioner,” Farmer said. “Medicaid costs Hertford County almost $2.5 million (annually).

“If the state would relieve us of the burden, imagine what we could do,” he continued. “We could help schools, help seniors and lower the tax rate.”

Commission Vice Chairman Howard Hunter III said his father, who served in the House of Representatives until his death earlier this year, worked hard on Medicaid.

“I would love to see it passed,” Hunter said. “I know it’s hard, but try.”

Moments later the Hertford County senior clubs presented their annual update on the Senior Citizens Legislative Goals.

Connie Perry made the presentation on behalf of the group and identified the costs of Medicaid as one of the group’s priorities in the current legislative session.

“We want to see those costs moved to the state,” Perry told the board.

Farmer said the topic had come up many times in the meeting and he wanted to take a point of personal privilege to speak to Mobley.

“Mrs. Mobley, you said earlier that you had not had requests from Hertford County to enter any bills,” Farmer said. “I would like to personally request that you resubmit the late Howard Hunter’s bill that would require Tier One counties to pay one percent of Medicaid costs and Tier Two to pay two percent and so on.

“To me, in all of this process, using the tiers provides the best balance,” he continued. “As a Tier One county, our cost would drop from five percent to one percent. That’s an 80 percent reduction.”

Farmer said he knew other bills were floating around, but he would like to see that introduced in this session.

“I would request that you resubmit that bill in your language,” he closed. “It seems that subject keeps coming back up.”

Mobley requested the bill be sent to her office and Commission Chairman Curtis A. Freeman asked Board Clerk Patricia Weaver to pass the bill on to the representative.

Davis also brought up the Medicaid costs in his regular report on the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. He said the group was keeping that as the top priority on their agenda.