80°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Clark County reluctantly OKs more funds for WestCare detox center

Behavioral health nonprofit WestCare will receive $273,000 from Clark County to help recoup uncompensated costs arising from its treatment of drug addicts and the mentally ill last year at its Las Vegas clinic, but some county commissioners are none too happy about the funding approved Tuesday.

The County Commission approved the expenditure by a 5-2 vote. But it’s unclear whether the sole detoxification center for the uninsured, underinsured and undocumented in the Las Vegas Valley can count on continued county support into the 2019 fiscal year, as some commissioners expressed an interest in funding other newcomers to the field.

“I have never hid how I feel about this because I just don’t think we should have all our eggs in one basket,” Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick said during the occasionally heated board meeting.

WestCare, which operates a national chain of substance abuse centers, had threatened to close its Community Triage Center at 323 N. Maryland Parkway in May, saying it had run up a $6 million deficit in the preceding 22 months. It blamed the loss on the failure of the state Department of Health and Human Services, Las Vegas area hospitals and Southern Nevada government entities, including Clark County and the city of Las Vegas, to live up to their commitment to make $2.8 million payments to keep the center operating.

Temporary deal averted shutdown

Amid warnings that the clinics patients would overwhelm jails and hospital emergency room, the shutdown was averted by a temporary deal with many of the entities to keep the clinic running through the end of June.

The additional funding approved by the county on Tuesday was intended to help WestCare cover its preceding losses.

WestCare consultant Dan Musgrove said the triage center’s financial picture has brightened in the last three months. He said it has seen a 53 percent drop in the uncompensated care rate, from 47 percent of patients to 22 percent.

He also said the clinic had cut its recidivism rate by half — to 15 percent — since he gave a presentation to the commission on May 15.

But Kirkpatrick, a persistent critic of WestCare’s business model, cast doubt on the claims.

“You can’t tell me you’ve made a huge difference in three months; alcohol addiction (and) heroin addiction takes years,” she said, adding, “You guys have never been a good partner.”

The county’s contribution augments a $676,000 appropriation WestCare received from the state. The state’s funding equates to a $200 daily bed rate for each individual who came through center’s doors without health care insurance or some other means of paying in the 2018 fiscal year, though Musgrove said the actual cost of those patients came out to about $300 daily.

The county’s additional appropriation is “not even close” to closing that gap, Musgrove said, “but it’ll help.”

A group of private hospitals and the county-owned University Medical Center also contributed about $19,500 for services rendered in June, Musgrove said. He said the City of Henderson has will make a contribution for the 2018 fiscal year, but couldn’t specify the dollar amount. Henderson officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Future depends on a match

WestCare is finalizing a contract with the state for the 2019 fiscal year, which runs through June of next year. The deal promises up to $750,000 in payments for uncompensated care, though the state won’t provide those funds unless WestCare can come up with additional sources of funding.

“It’s not like we just handed them the money; they still have to earn it month-to-month,” said Julie Kotchevar, administrator for the state’s Division of Public and Behavioral Health. “I was very clear with WestCare that if you’re relevant to the community, people will pay for it.”

Commissioners, who were torn Tuesday over whether to keep their May promise to provide payments even through the end of December, said they felt their hands were tied by the state’s requirement that WestCare secure an unspecified amount of local funding as part of its contract.

“Our generosity got used against us, so now we’re restricted,” Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani said.

Kotchevar clarified that the contract could be amended to include an additional provider if another were to be granted a community triage license. Currently WestCare is the only such provider in the valley, but two behavioral health center have licensing applications pending.

WestCare’s funding request from the county for the 2019 fiscal year will be presented to the commissioners at a later date, at which point the board will vote whether it will continue to move forward with payments. Alternatively, it could open a request for proposals process for another community triage center.

Changes to leadership

It has been an eventful year for WestCare. It unexpectedly shut down two additional community triage centers — one on Fourth Street in Las Vegas on Nov. 1 and another in Reno on April 5. In both cases it gave no warning of the closures to patients or government agencies.

WestCare said in May that it hadn’t been paid for about two years under an agreement with the state Department of Health and Human Services, Clark County and local hospitals.

Meantime, a county audit showed the nonprofit, which operates in 19 states, owed it repayment of more than $1 million for services already paid through Medicaid.

WestCare’s former vice president of Nevada operations, Kevin Morss, also left the organization and became CEO for CrossRoads of Southern Nevada, a private substance abuse clinic that promises to offer operations similar to WestCare sans public funding. WestCare’s triage center also gained a new director, Frank Reagan, about a year ago.

Musgrove wouldn’t confirm whether any departures were tied to issues with the community triage centers.

Contact Jessie Bekker at jbekker@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4563. Follow @jessiebekks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Jurors hear opening statements in Reid personal injury trial
Opening statements were made on Tuesday in the product liability lawsuit brought by Harry Reid against against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Mayor Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels
Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels to seniors on March 26, 2019.
Las Vegas City Council Ward 1 race
Candidates for Las Vegas City Council Ward 1. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O’Rourke campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke addresses attendees during a campaign stop at Arandas Taqueria in Las Vegas on Sunday, March 24, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Beto O'Rourke House Party in Las Vegas
Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke delivered a message of unity inside a Las Vegas living room Saturday night, outlining a mission to bridge the divide in a polarized America and rally behind “big defining ambitions that we have in common.” (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks at Atomic Liquors
Democrat presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand talks to her supporters at Atomic Liquors.
Presidential candidate Gillibrand meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., meets with UNLV Immigration Clinic student attorneys at her first stop in Nevada as a candidate Thursday, March 21, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto promotes the Rebuild America’s Schools Act
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., co-sponsor of the Rebuild America’s Schools Act, speaks at Hoggard Elementary School in Las Vegas to promote the bill that would provide $100 billion for infrastructure improvements at schools across the country. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Scholar Max Eden on how restorative justice decreases student achievement - VIDEO
Across the country, restorative justice is lowering test scores and increasing the number of students who feel unsafe at schools. That’s according to Max Eden, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute, who recently released a study discipline reform.
NV Dems Want To Gut Read By Three - Video
Nevada’s students have a major problem. They aren’t very good at reading. In 2017, just 31 percent of fourth graders were proficient at reading according to the National Assessment of Education Progress. The number proficient falls to 28 percent in eighth grade. Read by Three could change that. If a student can’t read at grade level by the end of third grade, he repeats the grade.
Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard stumps in Las Vegas
Presidential hopeful U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, holds a meet and greet at the Asian Culture Center in downtown Las Vegas Monday, March 18, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
THE LATEST