Unalaska clinic requests $700,000 from city

Oct 19, 2017

This fiscal year, Iliukliuk Family and Health Services is expecting a deficit of more than $700,000, unless the City Council agrees to provide financial support.
Credit Laura Kraegel / KUCB

KUCB, Unalaska: Facing dismal finances, Unalaska’s clinic is asking the city for $700,000 in emergency funding.

James Kaech -- executive director of Iliuliuk Family and Health Services -- made the request at last week’s meeting of the Unalaska City Council.

“We’re nonprofit," Kaech told the council. "We don’t want to make any money, but we need enough to keep the clinic going.”

He said the clinic has suffered annual budget shortfalls for most of the last decade.

While phased-out grants are partially responsible, he said the main culprit is the high cost of providing urgent care. The clinic is only reimbursed for a fraction of that $1 million price tag, which has left the island’s health care provider deep in the red.

Kaech said the clinic has slashed its budget and cashed in investments to make up the difference, but it won’t be enough this year.

City councilors were sympathetic, but several said the request could jeopardize funding for other nonprofits. Each year, the city budgets about $1.2 million for local organizations.

“$700,000 is about half [of that]," said Councilor Roger Rowland. "I understand this [request] is not in that cycle, but we’re still going to have to agonize over: Do we just subsidize you out of the general fund? Or do we cut somebody else that’s very deserving? We’re going to have a very tough decision.”

Councilors asked Kaech to draft a one-time funding agreement with city officials. They’ll review and vote on the request at a future meeting.  

Meanwhile, Unalaskans have 12 days left to take advantage of the clinic’s October amnesty program.

Patients with bills overdue by 120 days will receive a 50 percent discount if they pay this month. That applies to about 1,000 people who owe $1.5 million in total, according to Kaech.

He said the program is part of an effort to clean up the clinic’s books before adopting a new billing system early next year.