City of Longview Employee Health and Wellness Clinic

Paula Borens, a Longview Regional Medical Center licensed vocational nurse, checks the oxygen level of a city of Longview employee at the city’s Employee Health and Wellness Clinic on Monday.

Longview Regional Medical Center is increasing costs on the city of Longview to staff the city’s Employee Health and Wellness Clinic.

The three-year agreement approved by Health Plan Trustees provides increases of 5% this year, 8% next year and 10% in Fiscal Year 2022 above the $230,000 that the city’s self-funded health plan pays Longview Regional to staff the clinic.

Longview Regional has staffed the clinic with a family nurse practitioner and medical professionals since 2007, city Human Resources and Risk Manager Bonnie Hubbard said.

The medical center asked to increase its cost by 10% several weeks ago, but the city objected because it already had adopted its budget. Through subsequent negotiations, both parties agreed to stagger the increases.

Trustees also contracted with Longview Regional for radiology services through 2022.

“We currently have an industrial billing contract with Longview Regional. When the clinic orders X-rays, we have a cheaper route,” Hubbard said. “We are able to go with Longview Regional, and they send them directly to the hospital to their medical imaging. They charge us Medicare plus 5%, which, if you go to a private provider, it’s normally a 300% markup, so we’re able to get it much cheaper.”

Trustees said the clinic has saved the city’s health plan financially over the past dozen years by providing health and wellness services without employees going to more costly private providers. In many cases, employees were forgoing trips to a doctor’s office to save money, which many times led to serious illnesses becoming catastrophic before they were detected.

“I know there are many employees before who did not have a primary care provider, so by going to this clinic which is free to them, they’ve been able to catch employees with diabetes and heart failure, kidney failure,” Hubbard said.

Through 11 months this year, the clinic has seen nearly 2,500 employee visits. Employees with a health savings account have a $25 copay to the clinic, while employees on the city’s exclusive provider organization plan have $0 copay.

“It is $75 to $90 to go to their primary care provider out of the employee’s pocket to meet their deductible, so a lot of times, the employee wouldn’t go to the doctor because they couldn’t afford the cost,” Hubbard said.

The city’s hospital services agreements don’t fall under contractual services, Hubbard said, so there was no bidding process.

In 2007, trustees and administrators at that time reached out to Good Shepherd Medical Center about staffing the employee clinic, but its administration wasn’t interested in bidding, Hubbard said, “and we’ve just continued to renew agreements” with Longview Regional.

Jimmy Daniell Isaac covers the city of Longview and Gregg County. Follow him on Twitter: @jimmyisaaclives.