California Healthline Highlights Recent Health-Related County Action
Officials in Fresno, Los Angeles, Marin and San Francisco counties recently acted on health care-related issues. Summaries appear below.
The Fresno County Board of Supervisors last week voted to remove early retirees, ages 50 to 65, from the county's group health plan, the Fresno Bee reports. The rising costs of health care, in combination with the supervisors' decision, will increase premiums for about 700 county retirees by as much as 47% in 2006.
County personnel department officials attribute the decision to a new accounting rule that requires the county to report health care costs as an unfunded liability. The estimated $10 million to $15 million unfunded liability will decrease with the removal of the early retirees.
More than 7,000 county employees and retirees over age 65 will face smaller rate increases (Ginis, Fresno Bee, 10/3).
Los Angeles County auditors on Thursday released a report alleging that Navigant Consulting did not complete work it promised to do as part of the firm's $15 million contract at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times reports. The new allegations follow recent findings that the firm inflated its expenses at King/Drew.
Auditors said the Chicago-based firm deleted unfinished items from a to-do list and declined to disclose results of a practice inspection in preparation for a Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations inspection.
Based on a sample, the auditors found that the company had not completed nearly half of the recommended changes it classified as urgent -- including competency evaluations for all of the hospital's nursing staff, a task considered among its highest priorities -- according to the auditors' report.
The county must decide whether to extend Navigant's contract when it expires at the end of October (Weber/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 10/1).
Citing wait times of as much as five months for dental care at the county's low-cost clinic, county health officials are working to find ways to make dental care more accessible, the Marin Independent Journal reports. More than 10,000 low-income children ages 18 and younger in the county rely on the Marin County Dental Clinic.
The county last year launched a monthly dental clinic for pregnant women and children ages five and younger. Nearly $380,000 from the county's share of state tobacco settlement funds will be spent on the three-year project.
In addition, local hospitals and other donors are helping the county fund a dental van that travels to elementary schools in Novato, Marin City and West Marin. The project costs $55,000 and will run through next spring.
However, health officials say neither project fills the county's growing need for dental care (Halstead, Marin Independent Journal, 10/3).
The Board of Supervisors on Monday approved an ordinance that would require signs warning about health risks associated with mercury in fish to be posted in English, Spanish and Chinese at markets and restaurants, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The signs would be posted as part of Proposition 65, a state law passed by voters in 1980 that requires businesses to warn customers about products with unsafe levels of potentially harmful chemicals (Goodyear, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/4).