CMS Not Likely To Approve $350 Million Request for Los Angeles County Health System, Scully Says
The federal government will not likely approve a request by Los Angeles County officials for $350 million to prevent the closure of several public hospitals and health centers, CMS Administrator Tom Scully said on Thursday. "We're concerned about hospitals, but the idea that the federal government is going to come to the rescue with $350 million is out of the question," Scully said in a telephone interview, Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze reports (Zahniser, Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze, 9/27). As part of a plan to help reduce a Los Angeles County health system budget deficit expected to reach $710 million in three years, the county Board of Supervisors last month voted to close 11 of the county's 18 public health clinics and four school-based health centers, as well as end inpatient services at High Desert Hospital in Lancaster. The plan also will reduce funds for childhood immunizations, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and examinations for communicable diseases. In addition, the county will lay off 4,230 health care workers by 2006 (California Healthline, 9/25). County supervisors plan to vote later this year on whether to convert Olive View-UCLA Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center -- both of which operate emergency rooms -- into outpatient clinics (California Healthline, 9/13). County officials said that they could support the cost of the health system "through an approach that combines a larger amount of money from the federal government early on" and more funds from the state in later years, when the economy in California improves. State and county officials plan to meet with Scully on Oct. 9 to discuss the renewal of a five-year, $900 million federal waiver that the county received in 2000. The waiver will expire in fiscal year 2005-2006. However, Scully said that the county should not have received a separate waiver because "such agreements are normally granted to states." He added that "Los Angeles County is not the only metropolitan area in the nation dealing with large numbers of the uninsured" (Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze, 9/27).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.