LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Officials Must Take Advantage of Medicaid Waiver Extension
Now that Los Angeles County has finally received its much needed Medicaid waiver extension, a Los Angeles Times editorial asserts that "the difficult work begins for county health officials." While the waiver initially rescued the county from bankruptcy in 1995, the waiver will not be renewed again when it expires in 2005, leaving county officials with five years to correct public health system problems. To deal with those problems, the editorial stresses that the county will have to "redouble its efforts to shift from acute or critical care at county hospitals to cheaper preventive care at the clinics." But, the editorial notes, the most important goal for county officials will be to achieve Federally Qualified Health Center status within the next five years. Developed a decade ago, that program helps individual community-based clinics receive full reimbursement for the care they provide. While Contra Costa and San Mateo counties have gained the status for their clinics, the editorial notes that no other jurisdiction in the program is as large as Los Angeles County. While funding for the Federally Qualified Health Center program runs out in 2005, the editorial maintains that the state's congressional delegation "has a key role to play in the funding." The editorial asserts that "county officials can bask in the glow of the new [waiver] agreement for a few days, but then it's back to work." The editorial concludes, "Now's the time for the supervisors to set their agenda. They have spent far too much time arguing about staffing and beds at various county hospitals ... The clinics deserve much more attention" (7/3).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.