Alameda County Medical Center Releases Draft Budget Proposal
Alameda County Medical Center on Monday released a draft budget proposal that hospital officials expect to produce a surplus of $2.4 million in fiscal year 2004-2005, the Contra Costa Times reports. The surplus is expected to help offset ACMC's estimated $62 million budget deficit last year (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 7/20). ACMC officials project that revenue this year will increase to $369 million from about $300 million last year (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 7/20).
Under the proposal, the majority of the increased funding would come from Measure A (Contra Costa Times, 7/20). The measure, which voters approved in March, will increase the county sales tax to 8.75%, the highest sales tax rate in the state. Three-fourths of the revenue from the increase will go to ACMC, which operates three public hospitals in Oakland and San Leandro and community clinics in Oakland, Hayward and Newark. The remaining 25% of the revenue would go to private health care providers that serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries and indigent patients (California Healthline, 7/7). The measure is expected to generate about $70 million in revenue next year (Contra Costa Times, 7/20). The budget's projected surplus also includes $23 million in new revenue and expense improvements, such as changing the way hospital charges are made and implementing more efficient billing practices, the Tribune reports (Oakland Tribune, 7/20).
The budget also calls for the elimination of 227 full-time staff positions, 100 more than originally outlined under a plan adopted in May by ACMC's board of trustees (Contra Costa Times, 7/20). The layoffs are expected to save ACMC about $12.2 million in salaries and benefits this year (Oakland Tribune, 7/20). The draft budget anticipates "flat patient volume" and a 10.4% increase in patient revenues because of patient rate increases, according to the Times (Contra Costa Times, 7/20).
An analysis of the budget by labor union officials found that three of five positions slated for elimination provided direct patient care. The report said that eliminating the positions would result in increased wait times for appointments and more emergency department visits (Oakland Tribune, 7/20). Some union officials said the budget plan is based on "overly optimistic projections" and would "hamper the center's three clinics," the Times reports. The budget is expected to be finalized by the board this month (Contra Costa Times, 7/20).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.