Los Angeles Supervisors Consider Handing Control of Health Department to ‘Medical Professionals’
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors yesterday asked its chief administrative office to examine "alternative ways" to run the county's troubled health department, including the possibility -- "long resisted" by the board -- of supervisors ceding control of the agency to medical professionals, the Los Angeles Times reports. Two "separate board-appointed commissions" in the past six years have "urged supervisors" to hand control of the $2.4 billion-a-year Department of Health Services to a "public authority run by medical professionals," but the board did not follow up on either of the recommendations. Opposing the proposal yesterday, Supervisor Mike Antonovich said, "The development of a health authority would only serve to create another level of bureaucracy." But the department is facing an $884 million deficit in four years, and the search for a new health director is still underway. Critics of the board say that the supervisors "micromanage" the agency and "hamper reforms by looking out for health facilities in their own districts rather than taking a broader view," leaving the county's six public hospitals to function as "virtual island[s]," the Times reports. Most proposed models of a possible public authority to run the department would allow supervisors to appoint members and control the agency's budget but not to have a role in daily decisions. This arrangement is similar to those the board has with other county departments and the one used to operate University of California hospitals. The administrative office will study how health agencies operate in other urban areas and will give its report to the board next month. The report will include an analysis of the "cost, logistics and legal ramifications" of creating a public authority for the health department (Riccardi/Rohrlichs, Los Angeles Times, 7/11).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.