Los Angeles County To ‘Significantly Reduce’ Child Immunizations, Communicable Disease Treatment and STD Tests
The Los Angeles Times today examines a plan approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that will "significantly reduce" the availability of immunizations for children, treatment for communicable diseases and tests for sexually transmitted diseases. Under the plan, which supervisors approved to help decrease a $710 million budget deficit in the county's health system, the county would eliminate as many as 84,000 of 97,000 annual childhood immunization visits and as many as 38,000 of 88,000 visits for communicable disease treatment. The county health department plans to decide next week whether the disease-control reductions, which total about $8.9 million, will take the form of reduced hours at public health clinics or fewer available appointments to receive services. Other reductions include $335,000 from a program to "help county offices and not-for-profit groups design exercise programs for work breaks," $400,000 from an outreach program that promotes chlamydia tests and $700,000 from a program that helps patients find access to health services. Health care advocates said the effects of the reductions "could be damaging and far-reaching," the Times reports (Ornstein/Briscoe, Los Angeles Times, 8/22).
In related news, the Los Angeles Daily News yesterday examined the details of a six-month pilot program approved Tuesday by county supervisors to "provide one last chance" to maintain inpatient services at High Desert Hospital in Lancaster. Under the program, hospital leaders will have six months to raise the $10 million to $12 million per year required to support inpatient operations at the facility. In the event that the hospital raises the required funds, supervisors will vote in February on whether to close the hospital. According to the program, the state Department of Corrections would pay the hospital $5.6 million to use 50 beds for long-term care of prison inmates; Antelope Valley Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, High Desert Medical Group and Sierra Medical Group would pay $4.2 million to use hospital beds and surgery rooms; and High Desert would raise $1.5 million by "encouraging county patients to go to High Desert rather than private hospitals and better managing staffing and revenue collection" (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 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.