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Alexandria Opportunities Center hindered by wicked winter, county grants rate variance

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News Alexandria, 56308
Echo Press
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Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Unusual circumstances prompted the Douglas County Commissioners to support a rate variance for the Alexandria Opportunities Center (AOC) at the May 28 county board meeting.

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AOC Executive Director Mike Burke explained that because of winter storms, the facility had to close for six days, resulting in a loss of $60,000 that cannot be recouped. The AOC operates a 253 day program that gives people with developmental disabilities a chance to work outside of their homes in a production setting that supports local companies including 3M and Tastefully Simple.

"The straw that broke the camel's back was the weather over the winter," Burke said.

Burke asked for a per diem rate change from $53.96 for a full day to $57.26, $40.47 for a partial day to $42.94 and $5.40 in transportation costs up to $8.40, effective July 1, 2013. Per diems are billed to the county, medical assistance and waiver programs.

"The services provided for these folks is just invaluable," said Commissioner Bev Bales. "I think it's perhaps some of the best money we can spend."

Douglas County's investment allows AOC to collect approximately $2,457 for clients from other counties, $82,958 for Medical Assistance clients and $66,496 for clients who participate through a waiver program, Burke explained. All totals are based on an attendance participation projection.

Commissioner Jerry Johnson asked how "ObamaCare" will fit into the equation. Burke said it will impact AOC's budget as health insurance is not offered to employees.

Douglas County Social Services Director Mike Woods clarified that the Affordable Care Act will not result in such an influx of Medical Assistance recipients with developmental disabilities participating in the AOC program that will generate a substantial amount more in per diem dollars.

"It's such a narrow group that [AOC] can actually bill Medical Assistance," Woods said.

AOC provides vocational services to 132 employees, referred to as clients, through day training, habilitation and supported employment. Clients are referred to the company by social services and public health. AOC pays clients for their work and time depending on individual contracts; it is not related to the per diem. Thirty-five advisory staff oversee clients and monitor quality control at the facility in Alexandria.

Douglas County also restated a joint powers agreement with Grant, Pope, Stevens and Traverse counties to provide adult mental health services. The services offered through the Region 4 South Adult Mental Health Consortium agreement are required under the Comprehensive Mental Health Act. Grant County will serve as the host fiscal agent.

COUNTY COMPENSATION CLAIMS

Jane Hennagir presented commissioners with the 2013 Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) report. Douglas County uses MCIT as a resource for property, casualty and workers compensation coverage.

The report identified auto physical damage as the most frequent property/casualty claim in the past five years with 41.7 percent, followed by general liability (19 percent), auto liability (17.5 percent), property/inland marine (13.6 percent) and public employee liability, law enforcement liability and land use defense (8.2 percent).

Claim severity, however, ranked property/inland marine highest with 30.5 percent, closely trailed by public employee liability, law enforcement liability and land use defense at 30.3 percent.

Sheriff and jail operations showed the most workers' compensation claims with 30.3 percent; health care facilities were next with 16.9 percent. Law enforcement also topped workers' compensation claim severity with 39.3 percent.

MCIT reported that the most commonly injured body part is the back, and slips and falls are the most frequent incidents.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

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