Los Angeles Supervisors Not Acting to Reform Health System as Waiver Extension Nears, Venice Clinic Head Says
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has not developed a plan to help the 2.7 million county residents without health insurance, and "time is running out," Dr. Raymond Schultze, president of the Venice Family Clinic, writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. Although the county received funds and a waiver from HCFA "to develop solutions to the chronic under-funding of its health care system" in 1995 and an extension last year, Schultze points out that the agency has warned that the "county system will have to be financed through its own means" beginning in 2005. He asks, "What has happened since last year to prepare for this? Not much." According to Schultze, a "blue ribbon committee" offered a series of recommendations -- such as putting the county Department of Health Services under an independent board -- but the county Board of Supervisors "did not act on them." He asks, "If nothing changes, what can we expect to happen in two years, when the waiver falls off sharply? Crisis. Cutbacks. Closures." Schultze calls failing "to act now before the waiver and its subsidies" expire "unconscionable" and criticizes the county Board of Supervisors for a lack of "imagination and hard work." He concludes, "We need results before time runs out, when the only way out of the mess will be to close clinics and impose severe cutbacks. ... It is in everyone's best interest that [the uninsured] stay healthy" (Schultze, Los Angeles Times, 6/18).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.