LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Supervisors Green Light Hospital Project
Potentially ending a long-standing feud between Los Angeles County officials and state lawmakers over the size of County-USC Medical Center, the county's Board of Supervisors yesterday agreed to build a smaller facility in Baldwin Park, the Los Angeles Times reports. Endorsed by Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Gloria Molina, the motion was approved on a 3-1 vote. The smaller, 80-bed facility is expected to cost $47 million. Pointing to the county health department's large budget deficit, Supervisor Mike Antonovich cast the lone dissenting vote, arguing that the county could not afford the project. The controversy over County-USC began in 1997, when supervisors decided to rebuild the quake-damaged facility at 600 beds rather than the 750 beds initially recommended by the county health department. That decision infuriated Molina and some state lawmakers, who argued that downsizing the facility would render it incapable of caring for the county's large uninsured population. State lawmakers then held up $200 million the county needed to rebuild the facility. A compromise devised by Molina last year would allow County-USC to be rebuilt at 600 beds, but called for the construction of a smaller facility in Baldwin Park. Sponsored by Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), a bill formalizing that deal was approved by the Legislature last week. The board's motion directs county officials to work with the state to find a way to fund one-quarter of the Baldwin Park facility's construction (Riccardi, 9/6).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.