Los Angeles County Ballot Measure To Fund Trauma Centers Fails To ‘Attract Interest’ from Likely Contributors
A measure on the Nov. 5 Los Angeles County ballot that would raise property taxes to fund the county's trauma care centers and emergency rooms has failed to "attract interest from the financial and political circles that typically pay to promote such proposals," Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze reports (Zahniser, Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze, 10/15). Measure B would raise property taxes by three cents per square foot, or an average of $42 per year. The measure also would establish a three-cent per square foot tax on structural improvements; a half-cent per square foot tax on parking improvements; and a tenth of a cent per square foot tax on agricultural, vacant or similar land. County officials expect that the measure would raise about $175 million in additional revenue each year. The county would spend $92 million on emergency rooms, $63 million on 13 public and private trauma centers and $20 million to fight bioterrorism (California Healthline, 7/26). The measure has attracted only one contribution -- $250,000 from the union that represents county health care workers -- in the period that ended Sept. 30, according to campaign filing statements. The measure, which requires two-thirds approval from voters to win passage, will likely "need a more comprehensive marketing campaign than initiatives that require a simple majority," Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze reports. Measure B sponsors said that "they are on target" and predict that they will receive many contributions at an Oct. 23 event in downtown Los Angeles held by several city and county officials. However, the measure's "weak showing" to date has left some supporters "unnerved," Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze reports (Copley/Torrance Daily Breeze, 10/15).
Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that Los Angeles County health officials last week examined reforms made in the indigent health care system in Washington, D.C., that could help address problems in the county's health care system (Goldstein, Washington Post, 10/15). The county's health care system faces a potential $750 million budget deficit by 2005 in part because of the large number of uninsured patients treated. County officials have set an Oct. 29 deadline to decide whether to close dozens of public health clinics, as well as Harbor-UCLA and Olive View-UCLA medical centers, to balance the budget (California Healthline, 10/10). Federal health officials encouraged the county officials to consider the D.C. system, which the city privatized in 2001, as a model for reform, the Post reports. CMS Administrator Tom Scully said, "Change is tough, but the D.C. change seems to be going reasonably well. ... The political difficulties and concerns about patient care in D.C. two years ago are going on on a much bigger scale in Los Angeles" (Washington Post, 10/15).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.