SAN DIEGO: Blasted for Inadequate Care of the Poor
A San Diego grand jury "slammed the county" yesterday in a report alleging that inadequate spending on the health care needs of the county's 645,000 uninsured residents has made it "very easy for a patient to 'fall through the cracks,'" the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The report notes that insufficient reimbursements to providers and "uneven access to care" eventually increase public expenses, as those lacking basic health care develop costly conditions. Additional criticism was aimed at the alleged "lack of coordination among the various programs for uninsured, low-income residents." Grand Jury Foreman Peter DiRenza said, "They should consolidate all these programs into one. I don't think the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. The average indigent person doesn't know where to go." Two county officials deemed the allegations "unfair," noting that the board is working toward improving the "backlog of problems" they inherited. "There's a lot of catch-up that needs to be done," said Dr. Robert Ross, director of the county Health and Human Services Agency, adding, "The county spends an insufficient number of dollars on the safety net." According to the report, San Diego, which has no county hospital, spends $73 annually for the health care of each uninsured resident, while other counties, such as San Francisco and Alameda, spent upwards of $375. Meanwhile, the Board of Supervisors is awaiting a promised $30 million annual payout from the tobacco settlement -- $22 million of which Ross allocated to "safety net programs for the uninsured" (Duerksen, 5/20).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.