Chelan County Commissioners Discuss Problems at Federal Level
Chelan County commissioners are concerned about how federal health care laws are hurting county homeowners.
Commissioner Kevin Overbay says a major problem is that Medicare and Medicaid coverage from the national level is stripped out for people incarcerated in county jails.
"The taxpayers are actually getting double hit, because they're already paying in the form of payroll taxes into the Medicare/Medicaid system," said Overbay. "But they are also paying in their property taxes for us to stand up the jail with these fees for their medical expenses."
Federal law bars Medicare and Medicaid recipients from accessing their full federal health benefits while incarcerated.
Commissioners discussed the issue Monday while Commissioner Overbay agreed to take retiring Commissioner Bob Bugert's spot on the Federal Issues and Relations Committee within the Washington State Association of Counties.
“I’ve been in conversations with (8th District) Congresswoman (Kim) Schrier about this piece, especially with her medical background,” Overbay said. “I think we have an understanding with asking her to be a (U.S.) House sponsor of legislation that would actually change that.”
There’s been bipartisan talk in the past two years on pushing for changes to ensure there’s little or no disruption of health benefits for pretrial detainees who have not been convicted of a crime and make up most of the people held in America’s county jails.
Chelan County commissioners also expressed concern about another federal issue affecting counties Monday, specifically a phenomenon known as the “radar gap.”
There are five active Doppler radars that monitor real-time weather conditions for the state of Washington (Spokane, Pendelton, Langley Hill (Grays Harbor), Camano Island (Seattle), and Portland that are used by the National Weather Service to monitor hazardous weather conditions and predict weather.
None of the five radars have coverage of weather conditions below 10,000 feet in the northeastern slopes of the Cascades.
According to the county's website, the gap in coverage creates a less reliable weather prediction system for the weather service, which brings vulnerability or uncertainty for the residents, businesses, and industries that lie along the eastern slopes of the Cascades and portions of Central Washington.
The gap is especially prevalent in Okanogan, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Kittitas, and Yakima counties. All three Chelan County commissioners agreed Monday that the “radar gap” needs to be addressed.