City of Waukesha committees give shared health clinic their approval

Published on: 4/22/2014

The city of Waukesha took the steps Tuesday night to move forward on the approval of a cost-savings shared health clinic with two other governmental entities.

This occurred with the city’s Finance and Human Resources committees making a recommendation for the Common Council to approve the intergovernmental agreement for a joint medical center with the School District of Waukesha and Waukesha County. 

Waukesha’s Common Council will vote on the recommendation at its May 6 meeting.

With many Common Council members in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting who issued their support of the agreement, City Administrator Ed Henschel said he expects it to pass.

The school district and county already approved the agreement at meetings last month and for the health-care provider Healthstat to operate the facility. The North Carolina-based provider was selected by the city, county and school district earlier this year after a lengthy vetting process.

All city, county and school district employees and their families would be able to use the facility, which will be located in the offices of the county division of public health at 615 W. Moreland Blvd. on the Waukesha County Courthouse campus.

Waukesha County Human Resources Manager Jim Richter said the county has budgeted money for building renovations that could start very soon.

The clinic can be used for services such as primary care, wellness, pharmacy, occupational medicine and health assessments. Emergency room services are not available at the clinic.

The original timeline called for the city to vote on the intergovernmental agreement last month.

But the council held off on a vote after former Mayor Jeff Scrima brought in representatives from ProHealth Care to a meeting a few weeks earlier saying why a shared health clinic with Healthstat wasn’t the best option.

Scrima also said in an email that employees would be required to use the clinic (which wasn't true) and that ProHealth Care would match the savings of Healthstat in an alternative proposal.

ProHealth Care was part of the bidding process, but Henschel said Tuesday their proposal was ranked last when a committee reviewed the 12 providers.

Richter also said that ProHealth Care, like the other 11 providers that were looked at, had the option to provide alternatives.

Employees and their families are not required to use the clinic or they could use both the clinic and their own doctor, Henschel has said. A patient record at the clinic can also be sent to an employee's primary care physician.

The city administrator also said Tuesday night that he has not heard from ProHealth Care since the March 4 Common Council meeting and that ProHealth Care indicated that using their facilities would be mandatory.

Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings, who had made a referral for Henschel to review an alternative proposal from ProHealth Care last month, was upset that her request was not heard. Cummings is also a county board supervisor and one of four who voted against the shared health clinic at the county board meeting last month.

“I don’t think we’ve done our due diligence,” Cummings said Tuesday. “I find that disappointing.”

Henschel has previously said it violated his ethical duties to reopen the process.

“This was diligently reviewed,” said an adamant Henschel, who gave an overview of the agreement at the beginning of Tuesday's meeting. “We’ve given you the best proposal with the greatest cost savings to the city.”

According to estimates provided by Healthstat, the onsite clinic could save a total of close to $8 million over the length of the joint agreement, which is for five years. The county is expected to save about $3 million, the school district $3.4 million and the city $1.2 million.

Henschel said the savings are based on 50 percent participation over the five years and that if more people use the clinic, the entities will see more in savings.

“I’m hoping it will be more than that,” Henschel said. “That’s a conservative estimate.”

Significantly lower co-pays is one cost-saving measure employees will see if they use the clinic, which will be set up so the employees of the three entities can use their insurance there. 

The cost of operations would be shared in proportion to the eligible members of each entity with the school district paying 44 percent, county 40 and city 16.

“This is something that just didn’t happen overnight,” Alderman Andy Reiland said. “This was fully vetted by the three governmental bodies and provides a (cost-saving) option to employees and their families in a day when all costs continue to rise. It’s refreshing that these three bodies have united for families to manage the costs and it will end up being a tax savings.”

Henschel said on Tuesday that because the city did not vote along with the school district and county last month, the timeline for the clinic to open has now moved from Sept. 1 to Nov. 1.

David Young, a representative from Healthstat, said Tuesday local medical staff will be hired to operate the facility. 

With the city looking like it will soon join the school district and county in approving the clinic, Alderman Steve Johnson called it “a win-win for everyone involved.”

Alderman Terry Thieme said his employer, Kohl’s, utilizes a health clinic for its employees and urges the council to vote for it in a couple weeks.

“We’re always trying to find ways to save taxpayer dollars,” Thieme said. “And this is definitely a benefit to the taxpayers."