ORANGE COUNTY: New HCA Director Faces Obstacles
The new director of Orange County's Health Care Agency, Michael Schumacher, outlined his proposals to restructure the agency in his first interview since beginning his tenure. Already underway is a pre-existing plan to transfer 26 employees and eliminate nine positions. Schumacher also seeks a "sweeping outside review" of the HCA's $310 million budget and will push for increased direct county funding, which has declined 25% since the county's 1994 bankruptcy. But Schumacher's plans are already under scrutiny by other county officials. Health Care Council Executive Director Felix Schwartz is skeptical that he will be able to "beef up" medical care for the poor. His bosses on the Board of Supervisors also are watching Schumacher closely. Supervisor Todd Spitzer said, "He was brought in to clean up a number of systemic problems. HCA is now under the magnifying glass." In response to the pressure, Schumacher said, "I know (the job) is a challenge. ... We will do our best to try ... to improve the lot for poor people and others who rely upon the agency for their health. We will make the most pointed argument we know how to make" (Reed, Orange County Register, 11/17).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.