Orange County Supervisors Agree To Cut Funds for Health Services in County Budget
Eight Orange County community health facilities will close and other services will be eliminated under budget cuts to the county's Health Care Agency that the county Board of Supervisors approved yesterday, the Orange County Register reports. The agency is slated to receive $473 million -- an increase of $1.9 million, or 6% -- in the approximately $5 billion county budget for fiscal year 2003-2004 (Foley, Orange County Register, 6/11). Despite the funding increase, the agency would need another $23 million to maintain current levels of service, agency Director Julie Poulson said (Foley, Orange County Register, 6/11). Under a plan developed earlier this year to reduce spending by about $8.4 million, county officials said they likely would have to close smaller, county-administered health clinics providing free immunizations; tests and treatment for tuberculosis, STDs and HIV; prenatal care; and preventive care for low-income children. The county Medical Services for Indigents program, which provides health care services for county residents ages 21 to 64 who do not qualify for Medi-Cal, could also face reductions. In addition, the proposed budget reductions would eliminate 33 of the county's 544 locked psychiatric beds and a nurse shift for county jail mental health services. The proposal also would limit the response of health officials to disease outbreaks and the treatment of patients and could affect a county program that sends nurses to the homes of newborns with health problems to ensure that they receive adequate care (California Healthline, 1/31). However, supervisors yesterday approved $1.9 million in additional funding to restore physical and occupational therapy benefits for children with disabilities, 16 more beds for adults with mental illnesses and tests for chlamydia and tuberculosis (Orange County Register, 6/11).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.