SAN DIEGO COUNTY: Says Heartbeat Project Should Get A Chance
The San Diego Board of Supervisors yesterday ordered the director of the county Health and Human Services agency to reconsider his assertion that a private company would do a better job than a proposed community-based coalition at managing the county's children's mental health system. HHS Director Robert Ross had told the board that the group, consisting of representatives of families, mental health professionals and the county, which has been developing Project Heartbeat for the past 2-1/2 years, "doesn't have the experience to run a $65 million mental health system, which serves about 13,000 children." Supervisor Dianne Jacobs, noting that "the private company hired to manage the adult mental health services has done a poor job," said, "Based on what we know, why not try something new?" (Brooks, San Diego Union Tribune, 12/16). In his memo to the board expressing his opposition to Heartbeat, "Ross recommended that the county continue to manage the bulk of the children's mental health system while 'building on'" some of the auxiliary tasks that United Behavioral Health, the private contractor hired to run children's mental health services, has been ordered to improve upon (Brooks, Union Tribune, 12/15).
Keep On Truckin'
In other county news, the Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed yesterday to "have an advisory panel of health care representatives select a consultant to examine how the indigent medical system might be redesigned." This came despite the resignation from the panel of consumer advocate Karyn Gill, who said that as president of the California League of Women Voters, her organization "can't give its support to any process so fraught with conflict of interest" (see yesterday's CHL). Scripps group executive Michael Bardin said "it was 'completely erroneous to characterize' the current debate as consumers vs. health care providers, adding that hospitals and doctors are 'consumer conscious and consumer driven'" (Dalton, Union Tribune, 12/16).