EMERGENCY CARE: Los Angeles County Extends Contract with Trauma Centers
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors said Monday that it has agreed to a month-to-month charity care contract extension with 10 private hospitals to keep them from closing their trauma centers, the Los Angeles Times reports. Northridge Hospital Medical Center, Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital and seven other Los Angeles facilities had threatened to shut down their trauma centers if the county failed to raise reimbursement rates for treating uninsured patients. Supervisors said they "had no choice" but to offer the contract extension for the next six months pending the outcome of on-going budget talks with state and federal governments. Supervisors indicated that the impending closures would leave the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys without trauma services. Dr. Donald Thomas, associate director of the county DHS, said, "We are extending the contract ... to allow us to continue to negotiate with trauma hospitals and to ensure that the system continues to function." Pointing out that reimbursement rates have not increased for a decade, the hospitals argued that they could not afford to treat uninsured patients. Jim Lott of the Southern California Healthcare Association said, "These trauma centers are so costly, we have to ask the government to pay more for the indigents that come in. We are getting a fraction of what it costs to provide the care" (Haynes, 6/27).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.