Health center now split from county, but retains access to health insurance for now

Cascade County Commissioners approved a sub-entity agreement on Monday to allow employees at the Community Health Care Center to participate in the county’s health care plan after the Jan. 1 split.

The CHCC is now a stand alone agency in Cascade County, though employees and funding are still transferring over to the new organization.

Rocky Mountain Building will be the new home of the Community Health Care Center

The county agreed to contract with CHCC as a sub-entity under the county’s membership in the Montana Association of Counties Health Care Trust Group Benefit Plan so that CHCC employees and their dependents continue to have access to the heath care coverage.

Carey Ann Haight, deputy county attorney, said Monday that the agreement was for six months with the option to renew.

Commissioner Jane Weber said she was pleased to offer the option to make the transition seamless for employees moving from the county to CHCC in the split.

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It’s the same policy that’s available to county employees and the CHCC will not be able to ask for anything special for their health plans, Weber said.

CHCC will pay the employer match for their employees on the plan so that it’s not cost to the county, Weber said.

Commissioner Joe Briggs said it keeps the pool the same size or potentially expands it, which makes the rates for employees more stable since it lessens the chance of one or two bad incidents driving up insurance costs for others in the county pool.

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The CHCC has been hiring staff and transitioning county staff to their payroll and also hiring support staff to prepare for the Jan. 1 split.

Last year, CHCC notified the county of their intention to split and has also been transferring funds to their accounts in smaller chunks to cover operating expenses. Those funds were revenues generated by CHCC and not taxpayer funds, according to county officials.

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The CHCC has a buy-sell agreement for the Rocky Mountain Building downtown and is expected to close on the property in February. CHCC officials have hired architectural services and are moving forward with plans to renovate the downtown building that once housed Public Drug but has been vacant since a 2009 fire.

Community Health Care Center, Cascade County continuing steps to formalize split

The City-County Health Department opened the center in 1994 to support increased access to care for the uninsured, underinsured and underserved patients. In 2012, the CHCC started operating as a separate department within the county with a long-term goal of becoming an independent agency, according to CHCC.

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CHCC is also operating satellite locations in several Great Falls Public Schools facilities and will be expanding those in the coming years.

Some Community Health Care Center staff moving to courthouse annex, CHCC separating from county

CHCC has also launched a partnership with Gateway Community Services for addiction treatment.