Nearly $312,000 in county subsidies has been cut for the health clinics in Amargosa Valley and Beatty, which could force residents of those communities to travel at least an hour for health care.
The health clinic funding cuts were a part of $2.3 million in subsidies that were cut by the County Commission on Tuesday for non-mandated services.
Other support services affected by the budget decrease were, the senior nutrition subsidy, the animal shelters and the agricultural extension in Pahrump.
Commission Chairwoman Lorinda Wichman who called the cuts, “devastating,” due to a planned fee increase from the healthcare provider, but had to be made to address the county’s growing revenue shortfall.
“Right now we have a contract with Nevada Health Centers to run those two clinics,” said Wichman, who represents the Amargosa Valley. “We pay them $312,000 per year and we’ve been told that in this new budget cycle that they’re asking for an increase of another $200,000. So in light of that, it’s impossible.”
The two clinics that are impacted are the one in Amargosa Valley located at 845 E. Farm Road, and in Beatty at 215 S. Irving Street.
With those clinics in danger of being shut down, those patients who would normally go to the facilities for their health care will have to travel elsewhere for their medical needs. Wichman explained that the travel would make a bigger impact on Beatty residents, as many in the Amargosa Valley already travel for their health care needs.
“Those in Amargosa live relatively close to Pahrump,” Wichman said. “I think their average in Amargosa was eight patients a day and they’re spending an average of 10 minutes on each patient. So I’m sure most people are already going to Pahrump. That clinic is not getting the numbers that it should to keep the numbers up.”
Commissioner Wichman suggested that Beatty should contact the Tonopah/Nye Regional Medical Center to inquire about their program where doctors from either Las Vegas or Reno travel to see patients from the area.
The Amargosa Valley Town Board will likely explore possibilities to keep the clinic in town during their March 26 meeting, according to Town Administrator Mike Cottingim.
The county is projecting a $2.5 million budget shortfall due to state projections on property and consolidated taxes being lower than anticipated. County Manager Pam Webster told the commissioners Tuesday the shortfall could be $3.2 million for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.