A small town near Dallas has recently launched a program that will provide health care for its residents using tax dollars, WFAA reports.
Brooks Williams, the city manager of Ferris, told WFAA this is the first program of its type in the country.
Williams explained that residents will have access to physical and mental health “resources,” a benefit for those who do not have insurance or are not eligible to obtain government health care.
The goal, according to Williams, is to give residents convenient and consistent access so they do not have to pay anything out of pocket.
Ferris City Council voted unanimously to approve the initiative, called the “Access For All” program.
Williams presented details to the city council Monday night, where he confirmed the program is funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and taxpayers will not pay to support it.
Still, some Texans have their doubts about the validity of some of the program’s claims. Those questioning the ‘free’ nature of the plan took to Facebook.
“Nothing is free; just who is paying for it? Government gives nothing away that hasn’t been taken away from Someone,” Michele Dee Bennett asked on Facebook.
Sarah Wahlberg asked, “What happens when the Covid funds run out? It will happen quickly…”
Fox 4 reports that the ARPA funds can sustain the program for two years. After that, Williams says the city can apply for state and federal grants to keep the program viable.
According to Williams, this is not a government-run program. Instead, the day-to-day operations will be run by MD Health Pathways. Workers will take no insurance information.
In his presentation to the city council, Williams described how the healthcare program will work.
MD Health Pathways will partner with the city to provide nurses, caretakers, and doctors so local offices and hospitals will not be strained. It is unknown if the program will negatively impact local healthcare providers.
Providers from MD Health will begin working with fire stations, faith-based organizations, social services, and doctors to get the program running and reach as many people who need assistance as possible.
These groups will work together to provide telehealth visits, cloud-based data management, and a mobile health team to deploy in situations where residents cannot get to a doctor or hospital. Program workers will offer low-cost essential medication delivery.
Residents will access this program through an app. Once downloaded, the person will make an account and log in to connect to one of 200 workers. Physicians will be able to provide text responses to resident questions and can order tests if needed.
Williams says that patients will not have to wait longer than 30 minutes to get help in most situations.
According to Fox 4, “Ferris will use American Rescue Funds to pay MD Health Pathways to provide this basic health service, which is about $55 a year for each of its roughly 3,500 citizens.”