Here’s How Monroe County Can Spend 9% of ARPA Funding
Biden: GOP policies would cede tech economy to China
President Joe Biden has said Republican ideas for cutting the budget could undermine American industry and help China dominate the global economy. (March 28)
As decisions will be made this year and next on how to invest Monroe County’s $33 million share of ARPA funds, it stands to reason that a smart investor would sharpen their pencil and consider the return on investment, or return on investment, of each expense.
This approach was recently taken by county government and community leaders in their 2022 Environmental Return Report, showing how protecting open spaces contributes to 2,755 jobs, $368 million in outdoor recreation and tax revenue of $27 million to the county on an annual basis.
Our health care deserves the same careful analysis, and we should consider the needs and how to meet them. Each year, the Federal Reserve conducts a national survey of household economics and consistently finds that one in four adults go without necessary medical or dental care because they cannot afford it. So it wouldn’t be unusual for a reader to know a friend. or a relative in this situation.
Related: PoconoInfo Helpline Serves Monroe County Residents | something to think about
A recent Pocono Record column (February 18, by Debbie Kulick) revealed that 72,000 Monroe County residents (43% of the 2020 census population of 168,327) are part of what United Way considers the ALICE population – Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed.
Although their income exceeds the federal poverty level and excludes them from many assistance programs and benefits, they still do not earn enough to meet their basic needs, even though they are employed, usually working as a cashier, laborer health or child care, security guard or worker.
And if they have a medical or dental problem, or if a child is sick, they often have to make a choice between paying the deductible or paying the rent.
This “benefit cliff” problem is why federally licensed community health centers (FQHCs) have been established over the past 20 years in most of Pennsylvania, including five of our counties. surrounding. Their fees are based on a sliding scale and no one is turned away for inability to pay or lack of insurance.
As nonprofit organizations with strict requirements, their annual funding, none of which comes from the county government, comes primarily from HRSA, the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration. If we had the initial funding to establish such a health center in Monroe County, and if only a quarter of the 72,000 residents mentioned above received even a $200 break on their medical care on average , the annual profit would be $3.6 million, while taking exactly zero dollars from the county budget.
More from this contributor: Investing ARP Funds for the Long-Term Benefit of Monroe County | My turn
So if the county invested $3 million (a mere 9% of its ARPA allocation), for example, to fund the start-up costs of an FQHC, it would receive a 120% annual return on that investment year after year, and the benefits to county residents would accrue up to 1,000%, or ten times the initial investment, in less than ten years of operation.
A community health center would not only provide a truly affordable health care alternative to the 43% of Monroe County ratepayers, whose property taxes go into the county budget, either as homeowners or indirectly as tenants, but it would provide an unparalleled 100% return on investment, year after year. What better investment could Monroe County make with 9% of its ARPA funds?
Tim Sanders, East Stroudsburg
Healthy Monroe – Nonprofit Advocacy for Community Health Care – healthymonroe.org
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