Despite the argument that the position doesn’t serve the entire county community, Sibley County commissioners voted to maintain a community health care worker program aimed at serving the county’s Hispanic population and other citizens.
The position costs the county almost $22 hour with wages and benefits. John Glisczinski, the county’s Human Services director, estimated at the March 14 meeting the current community health worker has made about 285 contacts in Sibley County and they are ready to start billing health insurance providers. The worker will help residents strive for healthier outcomes, a move that will hopefully reduce dependence on publicly supported healthcare. Glisczinski says they will be able to bill health insurance providers a dollar amount set by the state.
Thanks to a $122,000 grant, the position will cost Sibley County $4,500 from its tax levy.
Commissioner Bobbie Harder of Henderson Township raised concerns about the use of levy money for a program serves approximately 287 of the county’s 15,000-plus residents. She cast the lone vote against the proposal.
“I don’t know how right that is,” Harder said. She argued all county taxpayers should not have to pay for a program that doesn’t benefit everyone.
Glisczinski said the program would benefit members of the Hispanic community and county residents as a whole. “I still believe a healthy community is a benefit to all,” he said.
Commissioner Gary Krugel of Winthrop agreed the program is a benefit to the county as a whole, even if it serves a small piece of the whole, “like the flood walls in Henderson or a park in Gibbon.”
Commissioner Bill Pinske wants to review the use of levy money and its effectiveness. The county will use data from 2018 billable hours to determine if the program should continue.