Virginia Health Department reevaluates cooperative budgets

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 5:16 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Virginia Department of Health will recalculate how much money it gives health departments.

Virginia contribution changes by locality to the Health Cooperative.
Virginia contribution changes by locality to the Health Cooperative.(Hicks)

Not only that, but the numbers will be reviewed every two years. In the last several years, counties’ needs have changed, but the Virginia Health Cooperative hasn’t.

Robert Hicks, Deputy Commissioner with the Virginia Department of Health, says the Health Cooperative has functioned since the 1950′s.

The system helps to fund the local health departments, which are all part of a larger health district. Each department contributes money to the Health Cooperative based on ability.

“We looked at each locality and how much they could generate, either through salaries, tax base, real estate,” Hicks said. “Some localities have really improved their abilities by growth and population and industry so that they’re able to generate more revenue.”

For example, Rockingham and Augusta Counties will be paying more because their ability has increased. On the other hand, Staunton and Waynesboro will pay less because their ability has gone down.

Hick says contributions toward the cooperative will be more fair, so communities will get what they need, even though not every area will pay the same amount.

“If you look at the needs for the localities, the ones that are unable to pay don’t have the revenue generating capacity; they often have the higher health needs,” Hicks said.

This plan has been a slow one, with changes taking place in phases. Localities seeing an increase would slowly pay more, instead of making the change all at once.

The pandemic has also affected public health in a number of ways, and it highlights the need to reevaluate need and ability to pay, Hicks adds.

“Obviously the pandemic sort of emphasized the need to do more in public health than we had been doing,” he said.

For more information on the Virginia Health Cooperative, visit their website.

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