Alameda County Official Announces Recommendations for Distribution of Funds From Sales Tax Increase To Fund Health Services
Alameda County Health Director David Kears on Monday announced his recommendations for distributing about $20 million in discretionary funds from the proceeds of a county sales tax increase to fund health services for uninsured and low-income residents, the Contra Costa Times reports (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 11/23). Measure A, 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 Alameda County Medical Center, 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, 7/21).
Under Kears' proposal for first-year spending, community-based primary care clinics would receive about $5 million. However, the Alameda Health Consortium, which is the main provider of community-based health care in Alameda County, had requested 10% of the proceeds of Measure A, or about $8 million for the first year of the program.
Ralph Silber, executive director of AHC, attributed the lower-than-requested funding level for his organization to competition for funding among other public health providers. However, Silber said providing additional funding for community-based clinics was consistent with Measure A's intent, adding, "The two main components of the county's indigent safety net are the county hospital system and the community clinics. We feel 10% to the clinics represents a reasonable figure."
Other provisions of Kears' proposal are listed below.
- Private hospitals in Alameda County would receive about $4.5 million to offset the cost of providing uncompensated care.
- Mental health and detoxification services would receive about $4.25 million.
- Public health prevention programs would receive about $3 million.
- Private physicians would receive about $1.5 million to offset the cost of providing uncompensated care.
- School-based clinics would receive about $1 million.
- About $1.25 million would be allocated to expand county health insurance programs and to fund unexpected health care requests.