Los Angeles County Cuts 153 Health Department Jobs
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday cut 153 positions from the financially troubled county health department, the Los Angeles Times reports. It was the first cost-cutting step since June, when the department received a $1.5 billion bailout from the federal government. Despite the government's assistance, the county health department still expects to report a $500 million deficit in 2005. The health department's "cost-cutting campaign" began in 1995 after an initial federal bailout. But supervisors have been dissatisfied with the department's "pace and efforts" to cut costs. Deficits are projected to begin by late 2002, spurring supervisors to brace staff for major cuts "well in advance." Those cuts include plans to eliminate 10% of the department's jobs over the next five years and a "controversial" proposal to contract out "medical tasks" and close some public health centers, transferring patients to private clinics. Despite the cuts, the county needs an additional $239 million by 2004 to balance its budget. County Director of Health Services Mark Finucane, whose cost-cutting methods have been met with "skepticism" from supervisors, warned that more cost-cutting decision are coming. Finucane said, "The next time is not going to be as painless as this time" (Riccardi, Los Angeles Times, 12/13).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.