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February 19, 2013

Logansport hospital, chamber drop clinic idea

Small businesses weren’t interested, hospital CEO says

A hospital-chamber partnership to explore providing a small business wellness program is being dropped because local businesses haven’t been interested, said Logansport Memorial Hospital president Dave Ameen.

The hospital and the Logansport-Cass County Chamber of Commerce had proposed last March to explore offering a wellness clinic for the area’s small businesses. The clinic would have provided some preventive care for small business employees, Ameen had said, who often can’t obtain full insurance coverage through the small business.

“That really got dropped when there was just not a lot of interest in the employers I’ve talked to,” Ameen said. “There just doesn’t seem to be a real drive for it, and I think with healthcare reform, that could take care of that issue.”

Starting in 2014, most small businesses with fewer than 100 employees will be able to shop for employee insurance coverage through a national insurance exchange, giving small businesses purchasing power similar to large businesses, according to healthcare.gov, a federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

New health insurance plans initiated after September 2010 will also have to cover certain preventive services, including several basic screenings, without charging a co-pay or counting toward a deductible, the website explained.

After the chamber received responses to a preliminary business survey last summer, indicating less interest from business owners than had been expected, Ameen met with a few small businesses to gauge whether there would be enough interest to get the program going.

Ameen suspected that the cost of the local program — estimated to run roughly $500 to $700 per employee — contributed to the lack of interest, along with “just everything else going on with their work and their businesses.”

That disappointed Ameen, he said, but “it is what it is.”

“We were trying to provide a service, so when people don’t see a need for it, you move on to the next thing.”

At this point, that means hospital administrators have begun watching national political moves closely to assess what changes to Medicare are coming down the pike. Scheduled 2 percent cuts in Medicare could deepen, Ameen said, affecting the hospital’s reimbursements.

“We just have to watch and see what the boys and girls do in Congress,” said Ameen.

Sarah Einselen is news editor for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at sarah.einselen@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5151.

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