Washington, D.C. / BELL COUNTY, Texas (FOX 44) – The Bell County Indigent Health Care Collaborative has been recognized with an Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).

The awards honor innovative, effective county government programs which strengthen services for residents. NACo recognized the Bell County Indigent Health Care Collaborative within its Health category.

This initiative was launched in 2020, and reduced the county’s Indigent Health Care costs to its lowest level in decades – while also alleviating stress on hospitals and improving patient care.

Since its inception, the Bell County Indigent Health Care (BCIHC) department had functioned in largely the same way – residents registered for the program, they received care in area hospitals (often from Emergency Departments), and the county reimbursed the hospitals. This model of using Emergency Departments instead of traditional primary care was both more costly and less effective, as patients had no hope for any continuity of care.

Through this collaborative, the county partnered with both the Greater Killeen Community Clinic and the Temple Community Clinic – making them the primary care providers for all BCIHC patients. To receive free care, BCIHC patients now visit one of the two clinics – where they receive both primary and specialty care, as well as prescription medications that the clinics are able to deeply discount through existing grant funds.

Area hospitals Baylor Scott & White Advent Health and Seton also contributed to the effort by making it easier for clinic patients to schedule appointments for specialty care. Indigent Patients now receive more regular and preventative care, while costing the county less than half as much as two years ago.

Bell County is one of three Texas counties to be awarded within the Health category. Both Denton and Harris County received awards for programs related to their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the second time Bell County has been recognized with a NACo Achievement Award.

The county’s Technology Services Department was similarly celebrated in 2018 for its DASH – Mobile Electronic Citation System.