Alameda County Officials Prepare To Distribute Proceeds of County Sales Tax Increase to Health Care Providers
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors over the next few months will hold public hearings to decide how to distribute the proceeds of a county sales tax increase intended to fund health care services, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 7/4). Voters in March approved the half-cent sales tax, Measure A, to provide about $90 million annually for Alameda County Medical Center and other health care facilities. Measure A increased the county's 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 proceeds would go to private health care providers that serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries and indigent patients (California Healthline, 3/4).
The Tribune reports that competition for funds among unity clinics, hospitals and public and mental health services is expected to be "fierce." According to the measure's text, the portion of revenue that is not slated specifically for ACMC will be divided based on "demonstrated need and the county's commitment to a geographically dispersed network of providers." Dave Kears, director of the county Health Services Agency, said that supervisors will develop guidelines and identify prevalent needs. Kears recommends that supervisors look for projects that show a broad benefit or can use other funds, such as private or federal grants. He said that the programs also should balance immediate needs against future investments.
ValleyCare Health Systems, a large hospital in Pleasanton, has offered to identify the needs of the Tri-Valley region. David Mertes, chair of the hospital system board, said, "We can bring these players together and bring about a mechanism for distributing those funds." However, the "suggestion wasn't greeted warmly," the Tribune reports. Supervisor Nate Miley, who led the Measure A campaign, said, "I wouldn't support that -- having hospitals run the process." In addition, ACMC Trustee Floyd Huen at a meeting last week said ACMC should receive more than 75% of the funds because of the amount of indigent care it provides. Huen said, "The measure specifically says (the medical center) will get a minimum of 75%, not a maximum. Let's remember that." Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who represents the Tri-Valley region, said, "It would start a serious war if were to agree to that" (Oakland Tribune, 7/4).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.