Consulting Firm Recommends Changes to Alameda County Medical Center
The Alameda County Medical Center Board of Trustees on Monday received general recommendations from consulting firm Cambio Health Solutions similar to those included in the Center's 2004 budget to reduce its estimated $71 million deficit, the Oakland Tribune reports (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 1/28). ACMC, a network of three public hospitals and three clinics, hired Cambio consultants to interview staff members and review $23 million in proposed budget cuts that are part of its 2004 budget plan. Cambio received $48,500 for the two-week contract, with the possibility of entering a new contract in which Cambio would implement its proposals. The contract began Jan. 12 (California Healthline, 1/16). Cambio recommended that the network improve its ability to "funne[l] patients into Medi-Cal" and other health insurance programs and that it collect copayments for health care services more effectively, the Tribune reports. Recommendations also included cuts to salaries and benefits, which account for 70% of the medical center's operating expenses, compared with 50% at most hospitals, Cambio Vice President Jim Braley said. The Cambio report also noted a "culture of mistrust," managers who did not understand financial reports and an excessive number of outside consultants who never implemented changes, the Tribune reports. ACMC agreed to enter a new contract with Cambio for up to 18 months during which the consultants will identify and implement specific cost-cutting measures (Oakland Tribune, 1/28).
Meanwhile, three employee unions have rejected proposals to cut $6 million from the budget, saying that the proposals violate employee contracts, interim CEO Efton Hall said Tuesday. The unions oppose proposed workforce reductions, mandatory days off and pay freezes, the Contra Costa Times reports. ACMC in the past six months has laid off about 100 employees, and more cuts to personnel and programs are "inevitable," Hall said (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 1/28).
In related news, supporters of Measure A -- a measure on the March 2 ballot that would increase the county sales tax to fund ACMC -- said they are concerned that the measure may not be approved because of "voter revulsion toward the dizzying number" of additional measures to raise revenue, the Contra Costa Times reports (Ashley, Contra Costa Times, 1/26). Measure A would increase the current 8.25% sales tax to 8.75% and would generate an estimated $90 million annually for county medical programs, including ACMC (California Healthline, 1/21). The March ballot is expected to include 11 revenue-generating proposals, in addition to two state bond measures. Ilene Weinreb, ACMC board president, said, "If (the voters) see too much stuff on the ballot they might react negatively -- without looking into how great the need is" (Contra Costa Times, 1/26).="http:> 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.