Health Care Costs Contribute to Ventura County’s Projected Deficit
Ventura County faces a $7.3 million budget shortfall in the 2001-02 fiscal year, in part due to deficits at the county Health Care Agency and Ventura County Medical Center, according to a budget report released yesterday, the Ventura County Star reports. Interim Chief Administrative Officer Harry Hufford said the goal of the budget forecast was to "warn county officials to find more revenue or expect budget cuts in June." The report, to be discussed by the county Board of Supervisors today, found that the county's Health Care Agency will likely see a $1.2 million shortfall in its mental health budget this fiscal year, and that deficit could climb to $3.3 million in the next fiscal year. Pierre Durand, the agency's director, said that the deficit was caused by the "increased costs of running the county's mental health clinic," adding that the state contribution is not adequate to cover the agency's entire budget. The report also found that Ventura County Medical Center will end this fiscal year with a $3 million deficit, which could reach $3.1 million next year. Durand said that the hospital will receive $5.6 million from the county's general fund this fiscal year, a $1 million reduction from prior years. However, he added that last year's settlement of a 10-year-old Medi-Cal lawsuit, in which the state and California hospitals reached an agreement to raise the level of Medi-Cal reimbursements, could cancel out any projected deficit (Levin, Ventura County Star, 2/27).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.