Los Angeles County Health Chief Resigns
Mark Finucane, Los Angeles County's "embattled health chief," resigned on Wednesday, after guiding the agency for five years, the Los Angeles Times reports. Finucane said the county needed a person with a "different perspective and fresh legs," adding, "After five years, it's time for me to step off this track." Finucane is "widely regarded as having enlarged and improved the county's public health services," as well as increasing residents' access to care, the Times reports. However, the county's health structure "remains largely unchanged." When Finucane started the job in 1995, he was charged with using a $1 billion Medicaid waiver from the Clinton administration to shift care from "expensive" hospitals to "cheaper treatment" at clinics and doctors' offices. Finucane had to ask the administration for another $1.2 billion bailout last year. When that money is exhausted in 2005, the department will face an estimated deficit of $884 million. When he asked for the second bailout last year, Finucane admitted that the county "fell short" in reducing inpatient care and increasing outpatient care. However, the county has more than tripled the number of outpatient clinics that treat the uninsured. During Finucane's tenure, he endured a "tense relationship" with county supervisors, although he said that the relationship did not impact his decision to resign. Finucane will remain in the position until June and will help supervisors find his replacement (Bernstein et al., Los Angeles Times, 3/15).