County agrees to fund PAMS program
County agrees to fund PAMS program
Friday, August 20. 2010
The Prescription Assistance Medical Services program (PAMS) in Gadsden County will continue.
PAMS, which helps provide free prescription drugs to those without insurance or access to government assistance, received funding by the county commission Tuesday.
Howard McKinnon, chairman of the Gadsden County Health Council, a watchdog group established to oversee grant programs in the county, spoke to the commission concerning the financial status of the program.
According to McKinnon, the program’s funding was set to end in August unless the county used some of the half cent surtax to support the effort.
The program was originally funded through grants.
Howard McKinnon discusses PAMS funding from Havana Herald on Vimeo.
The executive director of the council, Max Martinez, explained that the PAMS program was providing free prescription drugs to over 700 local residents who could not pay for their prescriptions.
About 80 percent of the participants, Martinez said, were elderly patients.
All of the recipients are Gadsden County residents, he added.
PAMS provides prescription drugs through a program with several pharmaceutical companies. Those that receive the prescriptions must apply for the service and are among the estimated 15,000 uninsured and under insured in Gadsden County.
Martinez explained that $81,250 was needed for two employees to administer the program.
Commissioner Sherrie Taylor stated she was for the program but wanted more information concerning the Council’s intended budget.
The discussion then shifted to the way in which the council’s programs were to be funded.
Martinez stated that the council had presented the county administrator with a budget but were asked, because of time constraints, to only discuss the $81,250 request. The remaining budget, he said, was to be discussed at a later date.
County Clerk Nicholas Thomas explained the process concerning how the funds of the half cent tax are set to be disbursed.
According to Thomas, the original ordinance was to have two-thirds of the surtax go toward indigent care with one-third to go toward debt service of the hospital.
Original estimates, before a drop in sales taxes, had put the revenue from the surtax at $1.6 million. That figure now, according to Thomas, is at about $1.3 million.
Thomas explained that after the commission voted to reset the percentages at 60 percent ($800,000) for debt payments and allowing the hospital use of half the remaining surtax (20 percent or about $250,000), the council was left with about 20 percent of the revenue (about $250,000) to budget for indigent care.
He added that the surtax revenue expenditures started in April of this year for the debt relief and at this time there is an estimated $400,000 in the fund.
Thomas stated that it was reasonable at this time to allow the council to develop their budget around the remaining funds.
Martinez responded when asked who would administer the budget, saying that it would be done through the local health department.
Morgan asked Thomas if the money was available, and he responded that it was.
He also asked Thomas and county attorney Deborah Minnis if the commission had the authority to use the money, and they responded yes.
Minnis added that the funds would be used in accordance with the plan set out by the commission.
The funding was approved unanimously and the commission will be presented the council’s full budget at a future meeting.
Quincy City Manager Jack McLane made a presentation before the commission concerning new jobs created in the city over the last two years.
According to McLean, 207 jobs have been created including the opening of the hospital which produced 45 jobs and the West End Grille which provided 35 new jobs.
“We have put our money where our mouth is,” McLean said about Quincy’s effort to create new jobs.
He credited the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce and the combined effort with the county as major factors in creating the new jobs.
All of this is happening, McLean said, with a poor economy.
Commissioner Doug Croley said that this was one of the benefits of bringing the community together to work toward creating jobs.
When the economy improves, Croley said, the county will be sitting in good shape.
“This is the kind of cooperation we need in the county,” Chairman Eugene Lamb stated.
Lamb added that the board would continue to work with the local cities to help bring jobs.
Chamber executive director David Gardner was asked to speak. He stated that the county was “on the cusp of what may be a mini-boom.”
Gardner said he had been working closely with the FAMU Small Business Institute and that there were a number of potential small businesses being developed in the county.
Commissioner Gene Morgan spoke about the recent marketing program the Tourist Development Council was developing. “I believe we have some wind at our back,” Morgan said about the county and the future concerning jobs.
In other business, Morgan mentioned the county jail advisory committee he had asked for in a previous meeting.
Morgan asked that the committee be agendaed for the next meeting to allow the commission to start working on what repairs were needed at the jail.
At the last meeting the board discussed the work at the jail on cell locks.
Clyde Collins, facility manager for the county, spoke on the locks. He said that the type of locks used at the jail were no longer available.
Collins said that the doors work, but do not lock automatically. He has sent out requests for offers on repairs and has only received one favorable response.
Only one door will not lock, he said, but there are two doors behind it that do lock.
Collins said that there were several other issues that he is was working on at the jail at this time as well.
No further action was taken on the matter.