LOS ANGELES COUNTY: County Chief Predicts Waiver Agreement By End of June
Los Angeles County should receive a federal Medicaid waiver by the end of the month, Los Angeles County Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen told Wall Street analysts during a trip to New York Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reports. Janssen also said that negotiations with federal and state representatives will continue today, but he did not disclose any details of the agreement. With the current five-year reprieve set to expire June 30, the county is hoping to extend the federal Medicaid regulations waiver to help pay the cost of its expansive health care budget. Without the waiver extension, county officials might close outpatient clinics, lay off doctors and nurses and cut health services for three million uninsured residents (6/10).
One Official Speaks Out
If a Medicaid waiver extension agreement cannot be reached, "the potential loss of some $230 million annually in federal aid could rip new holes in the county's fraying health care safety net," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky wrote in a Los Angeles Times commentary. Yaroslavsky calls the county "a victim of its own success," pointing to accomplishments and goals achieved since 1995, when the first Medicaid waiver was granted. "We pledged to reduce our hospital bed count by a third; we've reduced it by 30%. We promised to increase our outpatient visits by half; we've increased them ... by more than 40% above the point when outpatient services hit bottom after the crisis struck." Acknowledging that "the county has a ways to go," Yaroslavsky urges officials to extend the waiver to "maintain and build on the success we've achieved, and make it a national priority" (Yaroslavsky, 6/12).