Bell County Earns National Achievement Award for Indigent Health Program
Washington, D.C. – The Bell County Indigent Health Care Collaborative has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.
NACo recognized the Bell County Indigent Health Care Collaborative within its Health category. The initiative, which was launched in 2020, reduced the county’s Indigent Health Care costs to its lowest level in decades while also alleviating stress on hospitals and improving patient care.
“I am so grateful for this recognition from NACo,” Ebony Jackson, Director of the Bell County Indigent Health Care Program, said. “It is such an honor to be able to work alongside all of the passionate healthcare leaders, advocates, and county officials, who paved the way to ensure that the Bell County Indigent Health Care Collaborative could be such an immense success.”
Since its inception, the Bell County Indigent Health Care (BCIHC) department had functioned in largely the same way: residents registered for the program, they received care in area hospitals (often from Emergency Departments), and the county reimbursed the hospitals. This model of using Emergency Departments instead of traditional primary care was both more costly and less effective, as patients had no hope for any continuity of care.
Through this collaborative, the county partnered with both the Greater Killeen Community Clinic and the Temple Community Clinic, making them the primary care providers for all BCIHC patients. To receive free care, BCIHC patients now visit one of the two clinics, where they receive both primary and specialty care, as well as prescription medications that the clinics are able to deeply discount through existing grant funds. Area hospitals, Baylor Scott & White, Advent Health, and Seton, also contributed to the effort by making it easier for clinic patients to schedule appointments for specialty care.
The results speak for themselves. Indigent Patients now receive more regular and preventative care, while costing the county less than half as much as two years ago.
“The Indigent Health Care Collaborative is a great example of the county partnering with local organizations and institutions to better serve our community,” County Judge David Blackburn said. “This national recognition is a celebration of not just our efforts but those of the clinics and hospitals that made this program possible.”
Bell County is one of only three Texas counties to be awarded within the Health category. Both Denton and Harris County received awards for programs related to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is only the second time Bell County has been recognized with a NACo Achievement Award. The county’s Technology Services Department was similarly celebrated in 2018 for its DASH – Mobile Electronic Citation System.
“All across the country, counties are working tirelessly to support residents and drive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” NACo President Larry Johnson said. “This year’s Achievement Award-winning programs showcase how counties work every day to build healthy, safe, and thriving communities.”
Nationally, awards are given in 18 different categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide. The categories include children and youth, criminal justice and public safety, county administration, information technology, health, civic engagement and many more.
Started in 1970, NACo’s annual Achievement Awards program is designed to recognize county government innovations. Each nominee is judged on its own merits and not against other applications received.