Lyon County takes another step toward joining PrimeWest Health

MARSHALL — Lyon County took another step on the way to becoming part of the PrimeWest Health consortium on Tuesday. County commissioners passed a resolution stating the county’s commitment to joining PrimeWest’s county-based purchasing system for health care services. However, there was a lot of discussion first — and just like in past discussions on PrimeWest, much of it had to do with questions about the more than $2 million Lyon County would need to pay to join PrimeWest.

In August, commissioners voted to join PrimeWest Health, to provide health care services for people eligible for medical assistance.

At Tuesday’s county board meeting, Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said PrimeWest needed the county to pass a resolution committing to joining the group, and a promissory note to contribute to PrimeWest’s capital reserves. PrimeWest could then present the documents to the Minnesota Department of Health, as part of its application to expand into Lyon County.

The question commissioners and county staff had, however, was just when Lyon County’s payments to PrimeWest would be due. Lyon County’s total contribution to the capital reserves would be more than $2 million.

“I want to know when we have to pay the money,” Commissioner Charlie Sanow said.

Sanow said he thought the board had discussed that two payments would be made, one in 2019 and one in 2020. The language of the resolution and a joint powers agreement before the board wasn’t as clear.

Lyon County Auditor/Treasurer E.J. Moberg said the language of the resolution and JPA made it sound like the first payment is due when PrimeWest starts providing services to the county in September or October 2019, and the second payment would be due by May 1, 2020.

“According to the resolution, that’s when it’s due,” Moberg said.

Commissioner Steve Ritter said he was looking for more information on how joining PrimeWest would impact the county.

“I’m not against it,” Ritter said. But, he said, “I don’t know what kind of return we’re going to get” for the cost of joining PrimeWest.

“It’s a variable,” Sanow said. It’s not really possible to predict exactly how much health care clients in Lyon County were going to need in a given year. Sanow said the benefits of going to a county-based purchasing system were having more local control over health care services for people on medical assistance, and more local care.

Commissioners voted to pass the resolution committing to PrimeWest. But Ritter said he would still like more information about the financial impact of switching to county-based purchasing.