SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Consumer Advocate Resigns From Advisory Panel
The president of the California League of Women Voters has resigned from San Diego County's indigent care reform panel saying, "it is rife with potential conflicts of interest" and is "providing biased, faulty recommendations to the county Board of Supervisors." In a Dec. 4 letter to the supervisors, Karen Gill wrote, "Your decision to forego a complete and unbiased scientific study of health care financing by the Medi-Cal program in San Diego County in favor of a 'political' process leaves me no choice but to resign." The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the 10-member panel is comprised of members of the Regional Healthcare Advisory Council, "which has been studying how indigent care programs must be restructured to save money and expand insurance coverage for the county's 625,000 uninsured residents." What "drew Gill's wrath," the Union- Tribune reports, "is a proposal before the Board of Supervisors today" to kill plans to hire a consultant to review the indigent care system, in lieu of a new request for proposals from consultants. This effort "would be funded initially by the region's hospital industry" and would be "under the direct oversight of the county advisory panel," which is "dominated by health care providers." Gill contends this is a "blatant conflict of interest, since the contractor and the study results will have a substantial financial impact on the very same health industry representatives and their organizations." Gary Stephany, president of the Hospital Council of San Diego, said that while he was sorry to see Gill go, the panel does not "want a scientific study" that would "sit on the shelf and go nowhere." Supervisor Dianne Jacob said she "was very disappointed" with the latest developments, but believed that the current proposal is "the only way to proceed." Dr. Robert Ross, head of the county's Health and Human Services Agency, said, "I think it is completely unrealistic to believe you can have real systemic change without health care provider groups at the table" (Dalton, 12/15).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.