Hatmaker raises medical board discussion at workshop

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At Monday night’s LaFollette City Council workshop, Councilmember Hansford Hatmaker discussed forming a medical board.
“What this is, we don’t have a board at this present time,” Hatmaker said. “If something was to happen, we’d end up having to appoint a board if we (wanted) to take the hospital back.”
City attorney Reid Troutman didn’t have any problems with creating a medical board, Hatmaker said.
“I’m sure it would have an impact if something would happen to the hospital today,” Hatmaker said.
The purpose of the medical board would be to use $10 million, which has been placed aside by the Campbell County Chancery Court, to start a new hospital should LaFollette Medical Center go out of business, interim city administrator Cade Sexton said.
“Hopefully it won’t,” Mayor Mike Stanfield said.
“They (Tennova) have no intention of leaving,” Sexton said. “They’re adding new services.”
Mayor Mike Stanfield and the city council members would serve on the board, Hatmaker said.
Years ago, the hospital accumulated about $10 million, Sexton said. When it was sold, there was a legal battle over who would obtain the money. Chancellor Billy Joe White authorized the LaFollette Medical Foundation be formed at that time. The $10 million was invested, and reserved as an emergency measure to start a new hospital if the current one fails.
“They invested the money to make money,” Stanfield said.
The interest earned on the principal is used under the direction of the LaFollette Medical Foundation and can only be used for healthcare related services. The foundation meets quarterly, considering proposals.
“Anything that’s got to do with healthcare, we can pretty much fund it,” Stanfield said. Stanfield sits on the foundation as a representative from the city council.
The meetings are open to the public.
Zoning ordinance
At the workshop, the council discussed a zoning amendment the planning commission passed unanimously. This amendment will place restrictions on temporary structures in the business districts. Temporary structures are buildings that aren’t on permanent foundations, LaFollette Codes Enforcement Officer Stan Foust said. These structures don’t meet the guidelines for the commercial district, he said.
Under the amended ordinance, businesses operating out of temporary structures will have to get permission from the board of zoning appeals. They will also have to operate under a temporary timeline, such as 90 days.
The new restrictions won’t affect businesses that are currently operating out of temporary structures, such as Poho’s and the Snowball Shack.
“We probably have four right now in the city,” Foust said.
They will be grandfathered in. However, new regulations will apply to new businesses.
“As time increases, we see an issue with these,” Foust said. “It’s easier to set a building there than to build a building.”
As the deadline approaches, the LaFollette City Council will have to make a decision about purchasing insurance for its workers. An 8 percent increase in the total cost of employee medical insurance was allowed for in the budget. That is $911,000.
David Rutherford, an agent from LaFollette’s insurance broker agency, E. E. Hill and Sons, told the city council he had a revised quote of 9.6 percent from Blue Cross Blue Shield.
“We’re much closer than we thought we were,” he said.
The quote had been lowered from 24 percent.
“If we (stay) with the 9.6 percent and make some changes that aren’t too painful, then we can get it below what your budget allows,” Rutherford said.
Hatmaker asked if the city would have to make cuts.
“We may have to cut,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford explained two options. One involved combining the LUB and city insurances. They were pacakged together, but were separated 13 months ago, Rutherford said. This could reduce the quote by 2 percent, Rutherford said. The other option would be to change the workers from a preferred plan to a select plan. This usually reduces the cost of insurance by 10 percent, Rutherford said. He believes it could eliminate the increase in cost to the city.
“If your employee needs the preferred network, he could buy it himself,” Rutherford said.
This would cost about $20, Rutherford estimated.
“For those who can’t afford to buy up, all you have to do is switch doctors,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford will also gather quotes from other insurance companies. He will see if any quotes come in that are lower than Blue Cross Blue Shield’s quote, or if Blue Cross Blue Shield lowers its quote in light of the other ones.