Alameda County Medical Center Board of Supervisors Hands Over Day-to-Day Operations to Consulting Firm
The Alameda County Medical Center board of trustees on Thursday approved a plan to hand over day-to-day medical center operations to a consulting team from Cambio Health Solutions while the team searches for permanent replacements for the center's top four administrators, the Contra Costa Times reports. The Tennessee-based consulting firm has been working for the past three months on eliminating the medical center's projected $73 million deficit (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 5/7). Cambio was hired to work for 18 months for $3.2 million to review ACMC's operations after the board dropped its own plan to cut costs. In December, the board approved $23 million in budget cuts, including measures to require that uninsured patients in Alameda County seeking nonurgent care at all county-run hospitals qualify for Medi-Cal or another health plan or sign a document agreeing to pay part of the cost of care; to eliminate 176 full-time positions; to possibly close some hospital wards; to lay off other employees; and to eliminate some specialty services. The trustees last week approved a proposal recommended by a team of Cambio consultants to eliminate the equivalent of almost 350 full-time staff positions to address the deficit. The board members said that budget cuts could be reevaluated while the proposal is implemented during the next 45 to 90 days (California Healthline, 4/27). ACMC estimates the layoffs will save the center between $14 million and $20 million.
Many of the 200 people attending the board's Thursday meeting at Highland Hospital in Oakland criticized the Cambio plan because it would increase administrative costs by about $17,000 a month. Critics said the plan is a "betrayal of Alameda County voters," who voted in March for a sales tax increase to support health care programs, the Times reports. Sue Berkman, a nurse at Eastmont Wellness Center in Oakland, said, "Much of the cost savings of the layoffs will now go to pay Cambio additional fees, rather than providing better health care to the community" (Contra Costa Times, 5/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.