Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill To Increase Traffic Fines To Fund Emergency Room Care
The Legislature on Saturday unanimously passed a bill (SB 807) that would increase fines for certain traffic violations by $200 to fund emergency room physicians, hospitals and trauma systems, the Los Angeles Times reports. Under the bill, counties could collect an additional $200 for violations such as reckless driving, driving under the influence and other moving violations to deposit in a fund for emergency medical services (Los Angeles Times, 9/2). Under current law, counties may collect a $2 assessment on each $10 in traffic fines to deposit in the fund. State law requires counties to allocate 58% of the revenue to physicians for uncompensated emergency room costs, 25% for trauma centers and hospitals and 17% for county EMS costs. Counties use 10% of the revenue for administrative costs (Bill analysis, 8/31). The bill moves to Gov. Gray Davis (D) for consideration (Los Angeles Times, 9/2).
SB 807 will not "cure the state's health care woes" but would "prop up" the emergency care system, which faces an "immediate crisis," according to a Los Angeles Times editorial. About 50 emergency rooms and 17 trauma centers in the state have closed over the past 10 years, and those that have not shut down must provide care for a larger number of patients. Although the Legislature provided $25 million for trauma care centers in a separate bill, the editorial states that SB 807 would help private emergency departments and physicians in the state's "health care safety net" recover some of the $325 million in losses that they reported in 2000. However, the editorial states that Davis must provide additional help to county-administered facilities, "starting by not rolling back payments to Medi-Cal." The editorial concludes, "In the meantime, he should sign SB 807. It's a start on what he needs to do" (Los Angeles Times, 9/4).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.