Facing Possible Loss of State Funds, Los Angeles Supervisors Approve $9.4M for County Trauma Network
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday approved $9.4 million in aid to keep trauma centers in the region's "fragile" network open at least through March, the Los Angeles Times reports (Riccardi, Los Angeles Times, 12/12). The authorization led the 10 private hospitals with trauma centers in the county to agree to keep their centers open through June 30. The new funding became necessary after Gov. Gray Davis (D) last month proposed $30 million in statewide funding cuts for trauma care. The cuts included $6.8 million for Los Angeles County that the private facilities had expected to receive beginning next month (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 12/12). After Davis' announcement, the private hospitals indicated they would have to consider leaving the network without increased funding. The hospitals in the trauma system, which also include three public facilities, "treat severely injured patients but suffer financial losses in doing so" (Los Angeles Times, 12/12). The $9.4 million authorization will reimburse the private hospitals retroactive to July 1 and through March 31 (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/12).
Fred Leaf, acting director of the county's health department, said he hoped that the state Legislature will not approve Davis' proposed cuts when it meets in January and "instead will stabilize the trauma system past the spring, when the new county money runs out." Last year, supervisors approved a similar "bailout" of the trauma system because of state funding cuts. Connie Mathews, a spokesperson for Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, said of the new authorization, "It's adequate, but as we've always said, it's just a Band-Aid until there's some permanent source of income. In another year, there will be another fire drill" (Los Angeles Times, 12/12). The bailout comes as supervisors are preparing to discuss ways to deal with the county health department's "looming" deficit, estimated to reach $884 million by 2005. In a few weeks, Leaf is expected to present a plan to the county supervisors for restructuring the health department (Los Angeles Daily News, 12/12).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.