Board authorizes talks for in-house city clinic

Published 7:03 pm Saturday, March 26, 2016

City officials took one step closer Friday to establishing a city-operated medical clinic for city employees and their families.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday morning authorized City Attorney Nancy Thomas to begin negotiations with a partnership of Southern Health Network, Medical Analysis and Merit Health River Region Medical Center.

Thomas is a member of a committee appointed by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in April to examine the feasibility of going to a city-provided medical clinic after receiving information from Medical Analysis, a Biloxi-based company that works with corporations and cities to provide more affordable health care for their employees through a system of in-house clinics.

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“We are a self-funded medical insurance program; we don’t purchase commercial coverage,” Thomas said. “Because we are self-funded, every time we incur an expense, that’s a cost (to the city).”

She said the program offered to the city will cost about $40,000 a month, “but we believe that will be offset by the savings in our insurance.”

“I have absolutely no questions (about the proposed program),” Flaggs said. “In my opinion, this is probably the most progressive health care measure this city can ever take. When you can take an employee, their spouse and their dependents and put them in a coverage, into a clinic where they can provide health care, and quality of health care, and still allow them to be able to have a relationship with their primary health care doctor.”

He said the clinic would allow employees to use the clinic at any time during work hours, and not pay a copay. “It’s free,” he said. “You walk in and get service; this is truly affordable health care.”

But South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson said he wanted more time to look over the program before eventually approving the clinic.

“I have more questions and concerns about the city’s risk in this venture,” he said after the meeting. “This will cost the city $500,000 just to start operations and this can only save the city if employees decide to use the service. Right now, we are only billed if someone utilizes the service  with a health care physician. With the clinic, it is costing the city whether someone uses the facility or not.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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