Los Angeles Health Department Considers Cuts if Rancho Must Remain Open
Los Angeles County might be forced to make $700 million in health cuts by closing other facilities and health services if U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper orders the county to keep Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center open and prevents the county from cutting 100 beds at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, according to county Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Janssen said that the county would consider closing Sylmar-based Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance-based Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and Los Angeles-based Edward R. Roybal Comprehensive Health Center and eliminating 100 privately contracted health clinics (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 5/5). He added that the county would be unable to divert money from other county agencies to the Department of Health Services without taking funds from public safety programs (Fox, Los Angeles Times, 5/6). The county Board of Supervisors in January voted to close Rancho Los Amigos, which provides services to more than 9,500 patients -- about half of whom are Medi-Cal beneficiaries -- to save $58.6 million in 2004 and up to $70 million in future years. A coalition of disability rights advocates in March legally challenged the closure as a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, alleging that it would leave Medi-Cal beneficiaries with no other treatment options. Last week, Cooper said she would delay Rancho's scheduled June 30 closure until the county shows it can provide Medi-Cal beneficiaries with disabilities comparable care elsewhere (California Healthline, 4/29).
"[U]nless the judge also hands Rancho a vault full of cash, an injunction won't fix the problem" the county health system faces: "a huge need for treatment and no way to pay for it," a Los Angeles Times editorial says. A "court injunction alone would only put the terminally ill hospital on life support," the editorial adds. The Times states that a California Community Foundation plan report released last week suggests "Rancho should and could be saved" (Los Angeles Times, 5/4). According to the report, Rancho could succeed as a viable not-for-profit hospital within one year (California Healthline, 4/29). "The challenge is to recruit a board or, ideally, an already established hospital willing to run a new [not-for-profit]," the editorial says, concluding, "The California Community Foundation has shown the way to a cure. Now all that's needed is a handful of miracle workers" (Los Angeles Times, 5/4).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.