12/21/17 — Bad debt sours commissioners' spirits

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Bad debt sours commissioners' spirits

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 21, 2017 5:50 AM

Photo illustration by Casey Mozingo

Wayne County Commissioner Joe Daughtery refers to himself as "The Grinch" during Tuesday's commissioners meeting after hearing from director Davin Madden about the county health department's bad debt write-off tally.

Was that the Grinch at the Wayne County commissioners' Tuesday meeting?

It was, according to Commissioner Joe Daughtery. He said the Grinch came out of him because of Health Department debt write-offs for services rendered to people who are in the country illegally.

Health Department Director Davin Madden appeared before commissioners to ask for their approval of the department's new fee schedule and for bad debt write-off.

The bad debt write-off totaled $31,122.23, of which $30,578.17 was for services rendered to clients who did not have a Social Security number.

Nearly one half of the total for those with Social Security numbers, or $14,657.15, was for maternity care.

Another $14,262.35 was for family planning; $1,381.40 was for child health and $266 for immunizations.

Daughtery asked who the people were who did not have Social Security numbers.

"They are not considered legal citizens," Madden said.

Daughtery asked who mandates that the county must provide that service.

"The federal government," Madden said. "Because we receive federal dollars, we are required to be a safety net provider to anyone. We can't turn anyone away due to their inability to pay or their status."

"Or their status -- whether they are in the county legally or not, we cannot turn them away?" Daughtery said.

That is correct, Madden said.

"I know that kind of creates some turmoil with people," he said.

"It creates turmoil with me," Daughtery said. "I mean, here we are talking about maternity, and evidently it is a large number, and they have no Social Security number.

"So they come into the United States, and the taxpayer pays for the birth of their children. Is that correct?"

It is, Madden said.

Also, the child is going to be a U.S. citizen, County Attorney Borden Parker said.

"I am sorry, the Grinch came out of me," Daughtery said.

The fees and write-offs were added to the board's consent agenda and were approved with the other items included in that part of the agenda.

A consent agenda groups what are considered routine, procedural and informational items normally found on an agenda. The items are presented to the board in a single motion for an up or down vote.

Commissioners may request that an item be removed from the consent agenda for separate discussion and/or vote.