LOS ANGELES: QueensCare Gives $8.5M To Treat L.A.’s Uninsured
The QueensCare Foundation announced yesterday that it will donate $8.5 million to finance health care for low-income, uninsured central Los Angeles residents, the Los Angeles Times reports. The grant money comes out of the foundation's $350 million endowment, a result of the controversial sale of Queen of Angels Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center to Tenet Healthcare in 1998. California law mandated that the sale's profits to be spent on community health care; thus, the foundation was created. Five local not-for- profit hospitals will reap the benefits of the donation, which is intended to finance treatment for breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, asthma and diabetes -- five of the most prevalent diseases in Los Angeles County, particularly among ethnic communities. By financing treatments, QueensCare aims to improve access to health services for these populations. QueensCare Chief Executive Terry Bonecutter said that many local immigrants are fearful of the health care system and delay screenings and check-ups until there is a serious problem or a disease has progressed to the point where major intervention is required. Bonecutter added, "The public health system is often lined up (to the point) where [patients] have to wait months for treatment." He added that while many public health programs donate money for medical screenings, few actually fund medical treatments, saying that QueensCare "wanted to offer a private alternative at not-for-profit hospitals so when (the disease is) discovered, they can actually go into these hospitals for the care and treatment, and QueensCare will pay for it." Through the donation, the foundation also seeks to assist area hospitals, as costly therapies and surgeries for uninsured patients have driven not-for-profit hospitals "to the brink of financial disaster." Los Angeles has the largest and fastest-growing uninsured population in the United States. Lark Galloway, executive director of the Community Health Council, an advocacy group that opposed the Queen of Angels sale and has monitored the group ever since, criticized the donation. She said that she worries the grant money will be given as a fund hospitals can bill against rather than as a lump sum. She added that the group "grossly underspent its trust funding last year," saying, "The area [QueensCare serves] is one of the most densely populated areas in the county, with one of the highest concentrations of uninsured people. So why haven't [they] been able to spend that money and more?" (Cuza, 6/14).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.