County reports on drug benefit plan
Dukes County manager E. Winn Davis highlighted a new prescription discount card available to all county residents during a rundown of county services for the West Tisbury selectmen last Wednesday.
Of all the county services, Mr. Davis explained that the free discount card is "one thing that affects all residents." He explained that the cards, obtained through the National Association of Counties, are available to every county household, whether its members have health care insurance with a prescription benefit or not. The card is not used as a co-pay, but instead represents a direct discount from pharmacies, he said.
The cards do not have the user's name on them, and only one is needed per household, Mr. Davis said, in emphasizing that they are "utterly confidential."
He said the cards also can be used for a prescription that the health insurance does not cover, such as certain name brands, and they can be used for pet medicine. The cards are available at the county administration offices on Airport Road.
"It does not solve all our health-care problems," Mr. Davis said. "It's a piece of the puzzle to the solution."
Other county services Mr. Davis described include the sheriffs, the DARE and lifesaver programs, regional engineering services, a veterans' agent, emergency medical services, and public health-care programs, such as rodent control and pest management for the schools.
Selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter asked Mr. Davis about a $980 bill for the county engineer's work on a recently completed path on State Road. He said the bill seemed to be an additional assessment beyond the town's annual $108,000 assessment for county engineering services.
"I'm uncomfortable with that fee," Mr. Manter said. "In the past, the assessment paid for ex amount of hours."
Mr. Davis said the extra bill came about because the county is having difficulty balancing its budget. "It's not an additional assessment. We are using it to increase revenue to balance the budget," he added. He said the town could hire a regular engineer at $125 an hour, whereas the total county engineer's cost is $55 per hour, of which the town pays $35 and the county $20.
Mr. Davis added that for every dollar the county spends on services, the towns pay 40 cents.
At Mr. Manter's suggestion, the selectmen decided not to pay the $980 bill. "We should exhaust whatever we have in assessment, and then they can bill us," he said.
John Early, the chairman of the selectmen, said the selectmen would inform the county that they are withholding payment pending an explanation of the bill. Mr. Davis noted their objections and acknowledged that other towns have also objected to the additional assessments.