California Healthline Highlights Recent County Health News
Los Angeles, Orange, Sacramento, San Mateo and Ventura counties this week have acted on health care-related issues. Summaries appear below.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to name internist Bruce Chernof as interim director of the county Department of Health Services, the Los Angeles Times reports. Chernof will succeed Thomas Garthwaite, who is leaving the position to become chief medical officer of Catholic Health East (Los Angeles Times, 12/14).
Supervisors also voted 4-1 to postpone a vote on splitting county DHS into two separate agencies. Supervisors said they were concerned that the contract outlining the details of the relationship between the two agencies would not be ready until Jan. 19.
Under the proposal, the public health division of county DHS would become the county Department of Public Health. The plan is intended to increase efficiency and shield public health programs from future county DHS budget cuts.
A final vote on the proposal is scheduled for Feb. 7 (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/14).
The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a program that is expected to provide health insurance to about 19,000 low-income, uninsured children in the county, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The measure, which takes effect immediately, will cost the county nothing and will designate nine employees to enroll children in state and federal insurance programs. The program will not provide coverage for uninsured children with household incomes that exceed current guidelines.
Supervisors said they would consider expanding the program in a few months (Berthelsen, Los Angeles Times, 12/14).
The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday criticized Texas-based Electronic Data System for problems related to the CalWIN system -- which determines eligibility for some public assistance programs, including Medi-Cal -- and instructed the county Department of Human Assistance to develop an alternative system if the situation does not improve, the Sacramento Bee reports.
County workers for several months have complained that the system is difficult to learn, makes calculation errors and has created a backlog of work, raising the possibility of welfare recipients and Medi-Cal beneficiaries losing their benefits (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 12/14).
Prior to the new system, the average case worker processed about 688 Medi-Cal claims, as well as claims for other programs, monthly. This month, each case worker handled 763 claims for Medi-Cal on average (Lin, Sacramento Bee, 12/13).
County Human Assistance Director Bruce Wagstaff said he will continue working with EDS to address complaints about the system and also will develop a back up plan (Sacramento Bee, 12/14).
The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to approve new eligibility guidelines for reduced- and no-cost health care services at San Mateo Medical Center and county-run clinics, the San Mateo County Times reports.
The new policies will:
- Require all patients with appointments at the medical center or clinics to be screened for eligibility in the county Wellness-Education-Linkage-Low cost program, or WELL;
- Make ineligible for WELL all county residents who own their homes; and
- Provide 50% discounts to uninsured county residents who are not eligible for WELL.
Ventura County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston on Monday named Michael Powers to succeed county Health Care Agency Chief Pierre Durand, the Ventura County Star reports. Durand plans to retire at the end of March (Wilson, Ventura County Star, 12/13).
Powers has served as a county attorney specializing in health care contracts and litigation and supervised a county HCA unit that ensured county health care billings complied with state and federal regulations. He became administrator of Ventura County Hospital in 2002.
Powers will oversee the county mental health, substance abuse, public health and coroner's programs (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 12/13).