Governor Supports Creation of Public Health Department
As expected, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday announced his support for a bill (SB 162) that would remove public health activities from the Department of Health Services and transfer oversight to a newly created Department of Public Health, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Under the bill, DPH would focus on managing public health threats posed by epidemics, natural disasters and bioterrorism, while DHS would be responsible for overseeing the state's $30 billion Medi-Cal program (Chorneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 4/19).
DPH also would be responsible for overseeing care of nursing home residents and responding to other health concerns such as outbreaks of food poisoning (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 4/19).
The new department would be smaller than DHS and have an annual budget of about $4 billion. If approved, the department could be running by July 2007 without significant additional costs to the state, administration officials said (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/19). The department would be headed by the state Public Health Officer (Office of the Governor release, 4/18).
However, Schwarzenegger asked bill author Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) to make several changes to the legislation, including to language that would give DPH broad authority (Los Angeles Times, 4/19).
The bill is scheduled for a vote in June by an Assembly committee (San Francisco Chronicle, 4/19).
KXJZ's "Capital Public Radio" on Wednesday reported on Schwarzenegger's support for reorganization of DHS. The segment includes comments from Sandra Shewry, director of DHS (Russ, "Capital Public Radio," KXJZ, 4/19). The complete transcript is available online.
The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.