Los Angeles County Supervisors Should Add Fee to Speeding Ticket Fines To Fund Trauma Centers, Editorial Says
Los Angeles County supervisors should add a fee to speeding ticket fines to help cover the cost of trauma care in the county, a Los Angeles Times editorial says. The editorial points out that the 10 private hospitals in the county that have trauma centers lost a total of $17 million last year on the operation of the centers, and 10 hospitals have closed their trauma centers over the past 15 years. At the same time, the editorial adds, the county Department of Health, which operates three trauma centers, faces a $800 million deficit over the next three years. According to the editorial, "Trauma care saves lives but loses money," and the county should have a "steady way to pay" for the care. The editorial asks county supervisors to add a "sin tax" to speeding tickets and distribute the revenue to trauma centers through a "specially created district." The editorial concludes, "Sensible people surely will recognize that if we want trauma care to be there when we need it, this is a rational way to make sure it is" (Los Angeles Times, 7/6).
Meanwhile, in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece, Jamie Court, executive director of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, recommends that the state establish a "cost-control commission" to ensure access to Los Angeles County emergency rooms. According to Court, HMOs and health insurers "simply are not paying their fair share to keep hospitals and emergency rooms open," and for-profit hospitals have "played fast and loose with their public obligations" to treat all patients who seek care in ERs, including low-income and uninsured patients. He writes that a commission could establish "reasonable limits" on HMO, health insurer and for-profit hospital profits and redirect "excess profits" to "underfunded" parts of the state's health care system, which would "guarantee sufficient payments" for providers. Court urges Los Angeles County supervisors to propose a ballot measure to establish the commission and allow state residents to decide "whether the insured and uninsured alike can afford to wait any longer for public control over all health care dollars." He concludes, "With nearly half of the state's voters living in Los Angeles and its four adjacent counties, flexing the region's political muscle through a statewide ballot initiative could protect underfunded" ERs, hospitals and health clinics (Court, Los Angeles Times, 7/7).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.