Health

Northampton County Council considering ordinance to block health center plan | Lehigh Valley regional news

EASTON, Pa. – Northampton County Council is considering an ordinance that would block the creation of an employee health center, which County Executive Lamont McClure said would provide quality care and save taxpayer money.

McClure has said the center would provide primary care to 2,000 employees and their dependents. Use of the center would be optional and employees would keep their current health insurance. The center would save the county millions of dollars in health costs, he said.

McClure and Stephen Barron, the county tax director, compared the proposed center to the Bethlehem Steel Corp. clinic that was popular with employees. It closed in 2003, two years after the steel company went bankrupt. A survey of county employees supported the plan, McClure said.

The council has been cautious about the proposal since August, when McClure’s provider of choice, Integrity Health, made a lengthy pitch that council members said lacked specifics. Based in Hamilton, New Jersey, Integrity runs what it calls “partnership health centers” for counties and school districts.

At Thursday’s council meeting, the proposed ordinance to block the addition of a health center called into question several aspects of the plan.

According to the regulation, the proposal lacks information on start-up costs, operational costs, return on investment and cost savings. The regulation also states that competitive bidding is required for the center.

The Council did not discuss the bill, which was up for a vote on December 1, and neither did McClure.

McClure did comment on the November 8 election, which he praised as “fair, legal and accurate,” while thanking county officials and pollsters.

He also said the Gracedale county nursing home has bounced back from a staff shortage. The facility in Upper Nazareth Township has added staff and meets state standards for hours of patient care per day, meaning it can accommodate more residents.

The Council also voted to fund the recruitment of 20 part-time workers for the county’s juvenile justice center. The detention center for young people is struggling with a shortage of staff.

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