Top headlines from the Board of County Commissioners meeting  

by | Sep 12, 2023

The following are highlights from today’s Washoe County Board of County Commissioners meeting:      

 1. Health officer presents the new Northern Nevada Public Health: On August 31, 2023, the Washoe County Health District officially changed its name to Northern Nevada Public Health (NNPH) to better reflect the region it serves, which is Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County. NNPH will continue to operate the same services and programs it always has, from vaccinations and clinical services to air quality and food safety. NNPH also handles birth and death records, sexual health and family planning, and inspections of public pools, hotels, and more.

“It’s important to recognize that the health district is a separate governmental entity that’s formed by NRS 439 through both the cities and the county, establishing us as the regional public health authority,” District Health Officer Kevin Dick said. “While we have a new name, we have the same mission and programs.”

2. Washoe County to receive more than $18 million from opioid settlements: The State of Nevada settled with Teva and Walgreens in the amounts of $193.9 million and $285 million, respectively. Washoe County’s portion of the settlements will be a total of just over $18 million. In 2021, the Board of County Commissioners entered into the One Nevada Agreement, which provides the allocation model for distribution of any monetary recovery from the defendants between all governmental entities within the state of Nevada. The Board must vote to accept each settlement.

3. Board approves funding to expand Alternative Sentencing STAR Program: In October 2022, the Department of Alternative Sentencing launched a new program to provide wraparound support to address the foundational causes of opioid use among probationers and pretrial releasees. Since its inception, the Support in Treatment, Accountability, and Recovery (STAR) Program has made 66 referrals to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) services, conducted 147 counseling sessions, 121 journaling sessions, more than 235 home visits, and over 1,600 peer contacts. The STAR program received 96 referrals in its first seven months and had a full caseload of 25 participants within six months of launching the program. Data for drug testing results in the first six months of programming shows a 27 percent increase in participants’ compliance rate for taking ordered drug tests, and a 77 percent decrease in positive drug test results with STAR participants.

The initial program was slated to end in February of this year, but was extended to Sept. 30. The Board voted to expand grant funding from the State of Nevada to cover the extended timeline.  

4. Employee benefits finalized for 2024: The Board voted to approve the Washoe County Health Benefits Program for calendar year 2024 in the amount of $72.4 million. Each year the Insurance Negotiating Committee (INC) reviews the plan benefit design options for the PPO, the HDHP, and the POS (HMO) to provide input and review premiums to help control costs while continuing to provide a valuable benefit to employees.

The POS (HMO) will be replaced by the Surest Plan providing a variable copay structure and the same national United Healthcare Choice Plus Network as the PPO and HDHP offerings. The HDHP will see an increase to the annual family deductible as required by the IRS and there are no benefit changes to the PPO. Premiums for the PPO and HDHP will increase 8 percent while the Surest Plan will reflect an increase of less than 1 percent. 

5. Board approves donations and grants to County departments and programs: The Board of County Commissioners must approve all donations and grants to the County. These include:

  • $10,170 from Washoe County Bar Association to fund the ongoing operations to include purchase of books, food for special events and travel/training for personnel of the Washoe County Law Library. 
  • $2,893 from Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation to the Second Judicial District Court, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program. 
  • A $40,000 grant from the State of Nevada, Administrative Office of the Courts, to the Second Judicial District Court to build a two-way interface and integrate existing E-filing Solution with new case management system.  
  • $108,000 Medical Marijuana FY24 subgrant award from the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH) to provide behavioral health services for clients with substance use. This grant is funded by the medical marijuana tax revenue and supports Peer Recovery Support Specialists (PRSS). The PRSS is a mentor, companion, resource broker, community tour guide, educator, advocate and friend to clients. The PRSS guides clients toward long-term behavioral change through intensive mentorship and support through the stages of change with sobriety.