Los Angeles County Department of Health Services Likely To Face Budget Deficit, State Audit Finds
The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services will likely face a budget deficit of $841 million by 2007, despite a surplus of $185 million this year, a report released on Thursday by the California State Auditor's office found, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Since 2001, the department has made 15 of 21 planned budget-cutting measures designed to save $358 million by 2005, the audit found. Those measures include closing 16 health clinics, reorganizing administration and reducing payments to 100 private clinics. However, the department may be legally barred from closing Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, another cost-saving measure, the Daily News reports. Even if the department is able to make all the planned budget cuts, it would face a deficit of $345 million in 2006 and $768 million in 2007, in part because $900 million in federal bailout funds are set to expire in 2005, according to the audit. Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky (D) said the county will have to downsize Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center without reducing services, eliminate 100 beds at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and convert Rancho Los Amigos to a not-for-profit facility, the Daily News reports. In addition, Yaroslavsky said the county likely will ask for more federal funding. Kathryn Barger, chief of staff for county Supervisor Michael Antonovich (R), said a forthcoming state report will likely make it easier for the county to negotiate for additional federal funding (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 9/11). The audit is available online.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.