CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: Board Closes Home Health Agency
The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors is "pulling the plug" on the last publicly run home health care agency in the state, the Contra Costa Times reports. To save an estimated $650,000 annually, the board voted yesterday 4-1 to shut down the financially troubled Home Health Agency. "We tried to hold on as long as we could, but we can't afford to do it any longer," Dr. William Walker, the county health director, said. Agency nurses protested the closure, claiming that it will leave many of the area's poor, elderly and uninsured patients without care, but officials said that care will be handled by other agencies already contracted by the county. Board Chair Donna Gerber cast the sole dissenting vote, arguing that the county would lose any savings due to increased emergency room use (Cuff, 6/28). Other supervisors said that "the county was in a no-win situation and had no choice but to cut the program." Contra Costa's Health Services Department currently faces a $10 million shortfall for next year's budget. Officials blame the deficit on reduced reimbursements from the federal and state governments. The department also is expected to propose cuts in mental health services and other programs. The Home Health Agency is scheduled to close its doors within the next 60 days (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).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.