Increasing Sales Tax Could Help Los Angeles County Trauma Services, Anderson Says
Los Angeles County residents should "take action to protect the [county health] system even if it means paying more taxes," Gail Anderson, medical director of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, writes today in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece (Anderson, Los Angeles Times, 6/14). A recent state audit estimated that the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services will have an $850 million budget deficit by 2005, when a federal "bailout" is set to expire. The department is considering three plans to address the deficit: one that would close most public hospitals and more than 100 health clinics; another that would convert some hospitals into large-scale outpatient facilities; and a third that would close one emergency room, eliminate trauma services at one hospital and make changes at a few other hospitals (California Healthline, 5/31). Anderson writes that reducing trauma capacity at area hospitals could "dangerously strain the fragile safety net at a time when normal public-sector trauma centers are struggling" with increasing medical costs. Anderson suggests that the county could implement a sales tax that would go toward supporting trauma facilities. Anderson concludes, "Certainly the county should continue to aggressively seek financial support from Washington and Sacramento. But all of us ... need to take responsibility for creating a sustainable source of local funding" (Los Angeles Times, 6/14).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.