Los Angeles County Health Care System Needs Reform, Times Says
Noting that the Los Angeles County emergency and indigent health care system is "trapped in a self-destructive cycle," a Los Angeles Times editorial argues that the county "has to get down to solid reforms." The editorial asserts that "there are plenty of places to start" the reform effort, including:
- Expanding community health clinics. The editorial contends that the county's "modest expansion of community-based health clinics has not been nearly enough to decrease demand and costs at county hospitals," and points to Hillsborough County, Fla., as a potential model for reform. The editorial notes that Hillsborough County in the 1980s tackled obstacles similar to those facing Los Angeles County today, such as "a huge geographic area, high immigrant population, inability to assess taxes and lack of direct funding from the state," and "overhaul[ed] its health care system in a way that has become a national model."
- Management reforms. The editorial urges Los Angeles County officials to create an independent board of health department supervisors, similar to one in San Luis Obispo County. The board could "track every aspect of Los Angeles County's huge Department of Health and Human Services."
- State help. The editorial urges Gov. Gray Davis (D) to expand Healthy Families, the state's CHIP, to cover parents of eligible children. In addition, the editorial says that Davis should support legislation "to facilitate enrollment in public health insurance and to strengthen state penalties against private health plans that fail to pay the county's trauma emergency rooms for providing care to insured people."
- Federal coverage. Finally, the editorial asserts that Congress should implement a health reform plan suggested by Families USA and the Health Insurance Association of America, which would use federal tax credits to "help guarantee health care to adults and children in families with incomes up to twice the poverty level."
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