CONTRA COSTA COUNTY: Supervisors Postpone Decision to Close Home Health Agency
The Board of Supervisors for Contra Costa County agreed on Tuesday to delay its decision on closing the Home Health Agency after nurses complained that doing so would jeopardize the delivery of health care for low-income and uninsured patients, the Contra Costa Times reports. Nurses are concerned that without the agency, which provides home care for the sick and injured and employs 15 staff members, "public health may suffer." Roberta Hespen, a Contra Costa County Hospital nurse and representative of the California Nurses Association, said, "With Home Health closed, I don't see any assurances these people's needs will be met." According to county health administrators, other health providers have agreed to assume the care of these patients. The County Department of Health Services is simultaneously facing diminished state and federal funding and greater numbers of uninsured residents. Administrators expect to save $650,000 by closing the agency -- partially alleviating the predicted $10 million shortage in the approaching fiscal year. Many home health agencies closed when the 1997 Balanced Budget Act limited patient visits and federal reimbursement. Supervisors agreed to delay the decision for at least one month in order to first discuss alternatives with agency employees (Cuff, Contra Costa Times, 5/24).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.