Hospital Officials Welcome Davis’ Plan to Restore Trauma Center Funding, But Warn More Money is Needed
Although state hospital officials "welcomed" Gov. Gray Davis' (D) announcement yesterday that he would not cut $25 million from the state's 44 trauma care centers, they said "it is not enough to qualify as a real remedy for an ailing system," the Los Angeles Times reports. Officials said that "fundamental changes" are needed this year to alleviate emergency rooms' "dire" situation. The Times reports that the "obvious culprits" behind the crisis include a federal law requiring hospitals to treat all emergency room patients, regardless of their ability to pay, and the "improper use of emergency rooms by patients who could be treated elsewhere" (Haberman, Los Angeles Times, 1/4). State Senate Minority Leader Jim Brulte (R-Rancho Cucamonga), who called Davis' original proposal to cut funding for trauma centers "loony," said, "The state requires [the emergency rooms] to provide coverage to welfare recipients, Medi-Cal recipients and anyone who shows up at their doorsteps. Yet the state hasn't provided any financial support" (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 1/4). Hospital officials also cited low Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements as another reason for the crisis. Dr. Bill Wittlake, chief of emergency services at Loma Linda University Medical Center, said that current reimbursement levels do not cover the cost of specialists, who are increasingly removing their names from on-call lists. Wittlake said, "Everybody's got their lobbyists working on this. Without more money, I don't see how it can be solved," adding, "Until the general public begins to see that it really does impact them, unfortunately, I don't see the federal government taking action." He concluded, "Sooner or later the system is going to crack" (Los Angeles Times, 1/4).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.