Legislative Analyst’s Office Calls for Immediate Release of Reviews of Los Angeles County Health Care System Reforms
The Legislative Analyst's Office is calling for the immediate release of two reports, completed in December 2003, that analyze efforts to carry out promised reforms to the Los Angeles County health care system in fiscal years 2001 and 2002, the Los Angeles Times reports. Last month, the office asked lawmakers to withhold $29 million from the Department of Health Services and the county until the reports were publicly released.
The reports, commissioned by DHS and conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, examine whether the county upheld promises made in 2000 to expand access to outpatient health services and enroll more residents in Medi-Cal and other public health insurance programs, among other goals, in order to qualify for an additional $900 million in federal funding. The additional funding, which was distributed over five years, expires in June.
According to drafts of the reports obtained by the Times, the county improved in some areas, but other goals were not met.
DHS had said the reports would be released publicly last month, but they were not.
DHS spokesperson Lea Brooks said the reports were still being reviewed and would be released in the "next few weeks." She added, "It's a complicated, comprehensive report, and it's taken a long time to prepare."
John Wallace, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said the agency had met all guidelines for submitting information to the consulting firm and the state, and its final response had been submitted in January.
Assembly member Mark Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) has sought to have the reports released as the county faces an estimated $1.3 billion cumulative shortfall in 2008-2009. "You can't fix a problem, nor are you inclined to fix a problem, if you think there's nothing to be fixed," he said, adding, "All indications are (that) ... the crisis is worsening, and furthermore, the ball is being hidden."
County Health Officials Dispute Findings
County DHS Director Thomas Garthwaite said in a memo to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors that the reports "appea[r] to be designed in many respects to place the county in an unjustifiably negative light." Garthwaite called the reports "fundamentally flawed" and said they have "no value."
Dan Carson, director of the health services section in the analyst's office, said, "Why it's taken so long" for the reports to be released, "we don't really understand" (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 3/5).