LAGUNA HONDA: Bond Initiative Resuscitated
In effort to raise funds for San Francisco's ailing Laguna Honda Hospital, the city's Board of Supervisors "has asked the city attorney to draft a bond measure to come before voters as early as April," the San Francisco Examiner reports. Supervisor Jose Medina said the new proposal would be less costly than a $500 million measure initially proposed in July. He said "the board will consider ... a plan to remodel the hospital for $90 million, rather than a complete 'ground up' renovation." The Examiner notes that the stakes are high: the 132-year-old long-term care facility faces a loss of federal funding "because of overcrowding and inadequate care for its more than 1,100 patients." Tenant associations doomed last summer's bond measure primarily because the bond would have been funded by a rent tax, which would have been passed on to tenants. This time around, supervisors hope that the November expiration of the "pass-through" legislation will end tenant groups' opposition to the measure.
Spreading The Word Now
Laguna Honda employees and fellow Service Employees International Union members have learned from the failure of last summer's bond proposal and have already begun campaigning to build public support. SEIU Local 250 President Sal Roselli said, "We're trying to get enthusiastic people to help educate every voter in San Francisco by going door-to-door and making phone calls for the hospital." He also noted that "TV advertisements soliciting help for Laguna Honda were broadcast in the two weeks following Labor Day." Separately, Supervisor Medina plans to hold "a public hearing sometime in January to discuss financial alternatives for the hospital." Speaking of the earlier bond proposal, Medina said, "We have to be in touch with reality that $500 million is a lot for voters to swallow. Voters have to hear a very compelling argument if they are going to spend that kind of money."
Good News From HCFA?
Laguna Honda Executive Administrator Larry Funk said the hospital is currently awaiting results from a recent Health Care Financing Administration inspection of the facility. Funk, who said the HCFA report will be out "in a couple of weeks," is "very optimistic" that Laguna Honda "made the appropriate moves to come up to standards" (Fries, 9/23). Click Laguna Honda to read past California Healthline coverage of this issue.