Federal Government Should Offer More Funds for Los Angeles County Health System, Los Angeles Times Says
Although Los Angeles County has the most uninsured residents in the nation, the Bush administration has "shown little interest in saving Los Angeles County's imploding health care system," according to a Los Angeles Times editorial (Los Angeles Times, 11/6). The county health system faces an estimated $750 million budget deficit by 2005, and county officials may close Harbor-UCLA and Olive View-UCLA medical centers, as well as dozens of public health clinics, to balance the budget. The county received a $1.2 billion federal bailout in 1995 and an extension of the funds in 2000, but the bailout funds will expire in 2005. Federal health officials have proposed a $150 million bailout to help the county health system, but county officials said that the system requires additional funds to avoid large reductions in services (California Healthline, 11/4). CMS Administrator Tom Scully has "argued that to give Los Angeles County additional money would be unfair" to other states, but according to the editorial, other states do not have the "same need" as California. The editorial adds that the Bush administration "must recognize" that Los Angeles, as the nation's second-largest city, represents a "possible terrorist target" and that the county health system would serve as the "backbone of response." The editorial concludes, "L.A. County needs heroic action from Washington: First, the literally lifesaving money it can provide if it wants to. Then, new thinking on how to meet the health needs of this and other growing states" (Los Angeles Times, 11/6).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.