COUNTY-USC MEDICAL CENTER: Governor Expected To Veto Legislation For Larger Facility
Gov. Pete Wilson will likely "side with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors" in their quest for a smaller facility to replace the earthquake-damaged County-USC Medical Center. County officials said yesterday "they expect Wilson to veto a bill by state Sen. Hilda Solis (D-El Monte) that would require the supervisors to build" a hospital larger than they want, the Los Angeles Times reports. Earlier this month, the state Assembly -- spurred by an "assertive coalition" of Latino Democrats from Los Angeles -- voted to give the county $225 million to rebuild an expanded 750-bed facility. The state lawmakers also said they would give the county $40 million to fund three "community health centers." The supervisors, however, have voted to build a 600-bed facility, "saying the county can't afford any more and is shifting to a health care system that emphasizes outpatient care." The Times reports that if the governor "does veto the Solis bill, it would be a victory for the county because the supervisors would retain the ability to get the funds at a future date without committing to the 750-bed" hospital that the state lawmakers want.
Sean Walsh, spokesperson for Wilson, said the governor "was still reviewing" Solis' bill and would not reach a final decision until today. However, Walsh said, "The governor generally tends to favor local control." The Times reports that a "source familiar" with the situation said the governor is "95% committed to" rejecting the measure. David Janssen, chief administrative officer for the county, said, "It is a county hospital, not a state hospital and (the supervisors) make the final decision and are responsible for paying for it." The Times reports the supervisors sent a letter to Wilson "reminding him that the supervisors 'are best positioned to determine local priorities.'" Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said, "There is no reason for (Wilson) to sign a bill that will take away our local control, that would reverse our course on our commitment to downsize our hospital program -- a strategy that the governor's administration has been an integral part of." The Times reports that the "supervisors have set a Sept. 15 date to revisit the issue," and if the state lawmakers are "still threatening to withhold the $225 million, the board will vote to cut that money out of their project budget and build an even smaller hospital with 500 beds" (Meyer, 8/19). Click here to read past CHL coverage of the debate surrounding the facility.