Federal Waiver Could Protect Los Angeles County Health System, Los Angeles Times Editorial States
The approval last month of Measure B, a Los Angeles County ballot measure that will raise property taxes to fund trauma care centers and emergency rooms, also may have "created the momentum to salvage the rest of the county's troubled health care system," a Los Angeles Times editorial states. Gov. Gray Davis (D) late last month announced that state and county officials had agreed to request a waiver to help county hospitals and clinics that serve low-income patients (Los Angeles Times, 12/9). The waiver application asks for federal approval to contract with certain hospitals that provide services to Medi-Cal beneficiaries. The application also asks the federal government to continue to provide the same level of funds for the state's disproportionate-share hospitals despite an expected decrease in patient volume; patient volume at the hospitals will likely decrease as the facilities shift more patients from inpatient care to less-expensive outpatient treatment. Although the application does not ask for a set amount of funds, California officials hope that the waiver would provide the state at least $300 million over the next three years (California Healthline, 12/2). According to the editorial, the state based the waiver application on "programs that the Bush administration already has approved elsewhere," and the federal government should approve the application. The editorial points out that the provisions in the waiver "would be short-term fixes" that would not address the problem of the more than two million county residents without health insurance but concludes that the waiver would allow the county to "keep the system afloat until the nation begins a much-needed debate on a broken health care system" (Los Angeles Times, 12/9).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.