COUNTY-USC MED CENTER: Advocates of a Large Facility Tweak Budget
In a maneuver aimed at replacing earthquake-damaged County-USC Medical Center with a 750-bed facility, state legislators "quietly inserted language" into the proposed state budget that "would deny $6 million to the county unless supervisors" agree to their demands, the Los Angeles Times reports. The move, which caught some legislators unaware, is backed by Supervisor Gloria Molina, who contends her district lacks adequate health care services, as well as by state Sen. Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles), who characterized the effort as a matter of "getting their attention." Last year, the Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to build a 600-bed facility due to fears that building and operating a larger facility would prove too costly. The $6 million in question originates from a fund used to reimburse hospitals that care for disproportionately large numbers of poor and uninsured patients. If the county fails to agree to the budget's terms, the money will be withheld for one year, after which it would "revert to the general fund, and become available for other purposes." "It's going to be a tough sell," Assemblyman Roderick Wright (D-Los Angeles) said, adding that Republicans might block the effort for fear it may "set precedents." Polanco has met with lawmakers to discuss the situation and "offered the county $100 million spread over five years to help with construction costs" if they agree to a larger facility. Gov. Gray Davis has given no indication of whether he will use his line-item veto power to remove the provision. The Legislature is scheduled to vote on the $80 million budget today (Morain/Daunt, 6/15).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.