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Health departments restrict services in wake of budget cuts

WINCHESTER, Ky. (WKYT) - According to a draft of a new policy at the Clark County Health Department, patients who come from outside the county for certain services could be denied. Officials here say it's something that could become more common throughout the state.

"We have cut costs in about every area that we can cut costs in," said Scott Lockard, the Clark County Public Health director.

Lockard said a new round of cuts to his department is forcing tough changes-patients who come from other counties may no longer be eligible for certain programs.

"Breast and cervical cancer treatment program, the prenatal program, family planning services for individuals 21 and over. We want to try to ensure that we're serving our patients, our residents of our counties as best we can," said Lockard.

Lockard said the health department gets lots of people from Fayette, Madison, and Powell counties.

"They may know someone at the local health department and not want to be seen there. They may be more comfortable at a smaller health department. They may actually live closer to a health department in a neighboring county than they do in their own county," he said.

This policy isn't the only one of its kind. Fayette County adopted a similar one in July and the department overseeing Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas counties will consider one this evening. Lockard emphasized that just because programs will be restricted to county residents only, those who need help won't go untreated.

"Patients will not go without services. They will just be referred back to their county of residence and that home county will take care and make sure they receive the services they need," he said.

The new policy will go into effect here at the Clark County Health Department on October 1. Lockard said those who come to the department from outside the county for STD treatment or WIC programs would still be served.

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