OUR VIEW: The Jefferson County Health Departments plan for a new western-area health center during a difficult financial time for county government should be applauded_eastern heal

No, it doesnt because those federal funds could be spent at the clinics. Whats wrong with that?

Unearmarking and cutting the tax money going to the Health Department isnt the answer to the countys financial problem. The answer is for the Legislature to approve a new occupational tax.

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After courts struck down the county occupational tax, county commissioners asked lawmakers to unearmark money from a county sales tax that now goes to the Health Department and Cooper Green. The more than $17 million a year the Health Department gets from the tax accounts for about one-third of the departments budget.

Community based services help those who have difficulty with transportation to more centralized cilities. Not everyone has a car and the public transportation is abysmal.

OUR VIEW: The Jefferson County Health Departments plan for a new western-area health center during a difficult financial time for county government should be applauded

But more important than a new building is the expanded services the new western health center will provide. Officials say the Midfield clinic will be staffed by 120 to 130 employees, and will include maternity and optometry programs from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a pharmacy program from the county-owned Cooper Green Mercy Hospital.

There is precedent for such consolidation. The Health Department opened a new Eastern Health Center in Roebuck in 2008 and has won accolades, including for its award-winning design. The western center will be similar, officials say.

The Health Department should be applauded, not punished, for saving money so it can invest more in its services.

Jefferson County has an excellent Health Department that performs myriad services, from health care to restaurant inspections to monitoring air and stormwater pollution. Its one of the things, like the library cooperative, that we do right.

Those funds will not be spent at public clinics if people have other options. If transportation is a problem and there is money to be made, a private clinic will be built at this same location. Even if that doesnt happen, $15 million will pay a lot of cab re. There is no need for redundant spending of public funds at the county and federal level.

This is another excellent example of taxpayers getting a positive return on their taxes. It is also another example of how stupid it is to slash spending without regard to its return on investment.

This will be a state-of-the-art health center that is expected to see 100,000 visits a year.

I was at the Health Department yesterday and was talking to a nurse. She told me there were numerous instances of UAB and other hospitals sending patients to the Health Department for TB screenings and x-rays rather than performing them. I happen to believe that the Health Department is one governmental unit where we get a positive return on our tax dollars.

In justifying their attempt to get the money unearmarked, commissioners pointed to the $72 million the Health Department has in reserve.

Best of all, the Health Department already has the money to build it and has bought the property for it. In ct, its that money which has been threatened by Jefferson Countys financial crisis.

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If the Affordable Care Act stands as passed health insurance for individuals or milies will be subsidized for incomes up to 400% of the federal poverty line. In that case there should be little need for public health clinics. The $1eastern health center birmingham al5 million investment seems unwise and behind the times.

Meredith set up her blog with us, and began blogging on April 1, not knowing that 26 days later, she and her mily would survive the EF4 tornado that ravaged Tuscaloosa.

Health department officials said the reserve was needed to fund building needs and community health programs over the next three years. Among those is the new western health center.

The plan, announced last week, is to build an expanded clinic in Midfield and close three older clinics in Bessemer, Ensley and West End. Services provided at those clinics would be consolidated at the new, more centrally locatedOUR VIEW: The Jefferson County Health Departments plan for a new western-area health center during a difficult financial time for county government should be applauded_eastern heal clinic.

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OUR VIEW: The Jefferson County Health Departments plan for a new western-area health center during a difficult financial time for county government should be applauded_eastern heal,To some people, it might seem strange the Jefferson County Department of Health plans to build a $15 million health center in the western part of the county at the very time a third of the departments funding is threatened. But county health officials intention to move ahead with the project makes perfect sense, even amid the countys budget uncertainty.

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