Los Angeles County Supervisors Finalize Reductions to Health Care System
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday voted unanimously to close 11 of the county's 18 public health clinics, close four school-based health centers and end inpatient services at High Desert Hospital in Lancaster as part of a plan to help reduce a $710 million budget deficit in the county's health system, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/21). The plan also will reduce funds for childhood immunizations, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and examinations for communicable diseases. In addition, the county will lay off 4,230 health care workers by 2006, the Los Angeles Times reports (Briscoe/Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 8/21). The supervisors first approved the plan, which will save the county an estimated $150 million, on June 26 (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/21). Under state law, the supervisors had to hold public hearings on the plan, after which time they voted on the proposal a second time. At a hearing yesterday before the vote, about 700 health care advocates and residents criticized the plan, but supervisors said that the "cuts were unavoidable."
County health officials will begin to eliminate services on Aug. 30, and the 15 health clinics and centers will close by October. In addition, the county plans to convert High Desert Hospital to an outpatient clinic in May 2003, although supervisors approved a six-month pilot program that will allow the facility to "try to generate new revenue by offering unused beds to neighboring hospitals and medical groups." Supervisor Gloria Molina said, "We are on our last leg, unfortunately, in this whole area. This is one of the most unfortunate votes I will ever make on this Board of Supervisors" (Los Angeles Times, 8/21). The county Department of Health Services plans to propose additional reductions in October, such as the closure of emergency room and inpatient services at Harbor-UCLA and Olive View medical centers (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/21).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.