COUNTY-USC HOSPITAL: State Legislators Insist on More Beds
"Los Angeles County supervisors should be commended for their decision to construct a satellite hospital in the San Gabriel Valley," wrote three California state legislators, Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), Martha Escutia (D-Montebello) and Martin Gallegos (D-Baldwin Park) in Monday's Los Angeles Times. "Unfortunately," they continue, "the satellite hospital does not put to rest the issue of how many beds are needed to replace County-USC." Last month, medical and public policy professionals gave testimony before a joint legislative panel that 750 beds are needed to resolve the crises. But county supervisors propose 660 inpatient beds -- 600 at County-USC and 60 at the satellite hospital on the site of Legacy Hospital in Baldwin Park. The legislators argue that the county still has a "need for a healthy number of inpatient beds," as more than 3 million uninsured children, women and men currently live in Los Angeles. That number increases by roughly 15,000 each month. The legislators also point out that access to health care is difficult for some residents "due to cost, fear of being deported, and lack of information," adding that many poor residents "probably have not been to doctors for years." The writers contend that the issue is not "a relentless and self-interested posse of state legislators pitted against a forward-looking county board," but instead that "developing a vision and commitment to quality health care" is their duty as elected officials. The state plays a key role in the matter, as nearly $265 million -- almost 45% of the county's net costs -- will come from state funds. The legislators conclude that the situation requires "something far more important than 750 beds: moral leadership and political courage. Only then will we ensure that all residents, regardless of income, are treated with the modicum of dignity and respect that they deserve" (Los Angles Times, 11/8).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.