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County-based health care purchasing plan completes 10 successful years

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MORRIS – PrimeWest Health, a county-based purchasing plan for health care, is in its 10th operational year and remains financially strong, Jim Przybilla, CEO of PrimeWest Health, told the Stevens County Board of Commissioners during a presentation on Tuesday.

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PrimeWest Health is a county-based purchasing health plan that is owned by the 13 rural Minnesota counties that are part of the organization: Beltrami, Big Stone, Clearwater, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, McLeod, Meeker, Pipestone, Pope, Renville, Traverse and Stevens. 

PrimeWest provides insurance coverage and manages and pays for the care of the individuals covered by the program, Przybilla said. 

The insurance coverage is not like traditional employer-sponsored health care because PrimeWest provides coverage for people who qualify for Minnesota Health Care Programs through contracts with the Department of Human Services and Medicare and Medicaid services. 

PrimeWest also provides coverages to small business employees in rural Minnesota with the Values Health program where shares of the health coverage premium are collected from the employee, employer, the local community and the State Health Access Program. 

“The intention when we started out with PrimeWest was just to do the Medicaid population in 10 counties,” said Pryzbilla. “We're now 13 counties and we do many more than just the Medicaid population.”

Part of what PrimeWest does today is work with counties on more than just medical care. Under a county-based plan, counties are also broadly involved with public health. 

“The other part of what PrimeWest is about is, interestingly enough, where the health care system through health care reform wants to go: recognizing that the health of an individual is not just about medical care,” said Pryzbilla. 

Other business

• The board authorized a conditional job offer of deputy sheriff to Ron Hesinger of Hancock. The offer is contingent upon completing a background check, psychological evaluation and a medical screening. Hesinger currently works for the University of Minnesota, Morris Campus Police and part time with the Stevens County Sheriff's Office. 

• The board awarded a contract to Hard Rock Screening of Little Falls for a gravel crushing and stockpiling contract. Hard Rock Screening was the low bidder with an estimate of approximately $123,500 for the project, which will include work in the Fischer Pit and recycling materials from last summer's road construction project in Alberta. 

• The board authorized County Engineer Brian Giese to advertise for bids for a township sign replacement program. The federal government will pay 80 percent of the cost of the project and local townships will pay 20 percent. Bids will be opened at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8. 

• The board approved a resolution to continue to sponsor the West Central Trailblazers Association in their efforts to add signs and maintain area snowmobile trails. The sponsorship will help the association receive DNR grant funds for the project. 

• The board re-appointed Linda Vavra to a three-year term as the Bois de Sioux Watershed District Manager for Stevens County. 

• On Thursday, a county committee interviewed five finalists for an open position for an IT Technician: Shawn Lynk of Glenwood, Stephanie Gausman of Morris, Nicholas Tessman of Bellingham, Gregg Cunningham of Hancock and Victoria Townsend of Alexandria.

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Kim Ukura is the editor of the Morris Sun Tribune. 

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