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Kandiyohi County, Minn., raises fee for immunizations

WILLMAR -- The cost of immunizations provided by the Kandiyohi County Public Health Department will cost more.

Starting Sept. 1 the cost of a vaccination will go from $14 to $21.

At the current rate, the fees do not cover the cost of providing the service, said Denise Kragenbring, from the county public health department.

Counties had been required to cap vaccination costs at $14.68.

That cap has been raised to $21.22, which will bring in an estimated $10,000 in additional revenue for the program.

Kragenbring told the Kandiyohi County Commissioners on Tuesday that the state is increasing the rate, in part because of the Affordable Care Act that will require people to have health insurance, and because data shows counties are not recouping their costs for providing immunization clinics.

Although counties receive the vaccine for free, there is a cost to delivering the shots and administering the program.

The $14 per shot does not cover that cost, said Kragenbring.

In the past the county provided many vaccinations for children. That has now changed, said Ann Stehn director of the health and human services department. Many of the vaccination clinics now serve mostly adults.

A vast majority of the individuals who use the county public health service for immunizations have insurance, so billing for the vaccinations is made through a third party, said Ann Stehn director of the health and human services department.

Because there will likely always be people without health insurance, Kragenbring said those who cannot afford the new rate will be offered an alternative fee schedule or asked to pay what they can.

She said no one is ever denied the service if they cannot pay anything.

Chairman Harlan Madsen said since the state raised the allowable rate it "seems really foolish to not take the reimbursement that is coming."

He said many people don't realize that the county has been providing this service at a financial loss for years.

The commissioners unanimously approved the $7 increase to the fee to begin Sept. 1.

In other action, the commissioners rejected all three bids to replace a bridge near the outlet to Lake Lillian because even the lowest bid was 23 percent higher than the $115,000 estimate.

The highest bid was 67 percent over the estimate.

Public Works Director Gary Danielson said state and local highway departments are running into similar issues because the late spring construction season has contractors' schedules backed up and bidding higher for projects.

The Lake Lillian project will be delayed one year.

A project to install a bridge with two culverts by Raymond, however, was approved. Danielson said the lowest bid there was $7,000 over the estimate, which was about 4 percent.

In other action:

*County Administrator Larry Kleindl is proposing that the county put up a larger sign by the county's recycling center in an attempt to educate people about recycling and where the facility is located. The commissioners are exploring different ways to increase recycling in the county. No action was taken on the sign.

*The commissioner also heard a report on the region's emergency preparedness training that's being done in an 18-county area. The national effort was in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

*A college intern with the Middle Fork Crow River Watershed district told the Commissioners about his work this summer to patrol seven county lakes and conduct inspections on boats in an attempt to reduce the risk of transporting aquatic invasive species. An open house at the watershed district's new office will be held 3-7 p.m. Tuesday. The facility is located at 189 County Road 8 NE in Spicer.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750