Los Angeles County Supervisors Approve Plan To Require Proof of Residency for Most Care at County Facilities
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday approved a plan to reduce emergency room overcrowding by requiring proof of residence from most patients seeking care at county facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports (Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 6/4). Under the proposal, uninsured people seeking care at county facilities will be required to show either government-issued identification showing their address or another proof of residency, such as a utility bill, beginning in October. County facilities will continue to provide care to homeless people and undocumented immigrants, and officials will determine a way for those people to show residency. It is unknown how many uninsured non-county residents receive care in the county; however, hospital officials believe that nonresidents make up at least 3.7% of uninsured care. County officials do not know how much they will save under the plan. The proposal also includes a plan that limits the number of patients that private hospitals can transfer to public facilities solely based on cost decisions (California Healthline, 5/30). County officials said immunization and other public health programs, such as those that prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, will not be affected by the new policy. Thomas Garthwaite, director of the county health services department, said that if implemented, the plan would save the county a "few million" dollars per year. He added, however, that medical personnel will still evaluate and treat people who seek care in emergency rooms, saying, "We are mandated by federal regulations to see anyone who shows up in our emergency room and render them care" (Los Angeles Times, 6/4).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.