LOS ANGELES COUNTY: Supervisors OK Trauma Care Funds
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to pay private hospitals up to $8.5 million by next July to "temporarily shore up" the county's financially strapped trauma system, the Los Angeles Times reports. After several of the 10 private hospitals threatened to leave the trauma system because of low and delayed payments, the board agreed to allocate the funds to keep the system operating under the condition that health officials secure "more stable" funding from the state. Los Angeles County, like other counties across the state, is struggling to keep its trauma system running. Supervisor Don Knabe said, "My continuing frustration is why (do) we continue to get stuck in the middle of this problem. I would think (Sacramento) would recognize ... the importance of a trauma system." The current budget crisis was caused by a cut in the state's tobacco tax receipts, which private hospitals depend on to cover the cost of caring for uninsured trauma patients. Although the county had offered $17 million over two years, the hospitals accepted the one-year deal so the search for permanent funding would not be delayed. However, some officials viewed the funding as a "last-minute bailout." James Lott, executive vice president of the Healthcare Association of Southern California, said, "I just don't see the response we need from Sacramento." Dr. Daniel Higgins, medical director for emergency services at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, added, "This is just a temporary fix. There will be another crisis early next year" (Marquis, Los Angeles Times, 9/27).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.