SAN FRANCISCO: $33M for SF General, Laguna Honda in Brown’s Budget
San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown (D) has proposed an increase of $40 million in the Department of Public Health budget, primarily for San Francisco General Hospital and Laguna Honda Hospital as the facilities struggle to stay afloat amid shrinking Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements and rising caseloads. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that $22.1 million of the increase will go to SF General: $17 million to "cover lost reimbursements"; $5 million to offset rising patient loads, especially in the emergency room; and $800,000 to the pharmacy, where "budget cuts in recent months have produced near chaos, with people saying they had to wait days to get prescriptions filled." Laguna Honda, the recipient of a $10.8 million increase under Brown's budget, has been forced to cut patient loads "because of federal objections to its old-style" open-ward system, but those loads remain large enough that operating costs have not appreciably decreased.
But Wait, There's More
The budget, which must be approved by the County Board of Supervisors, allocates an additional $1 million for the city's treatment-on-demand substance abuse program, specifically for "more heroin treatment, added detoxification programs for teenagers and more treatment of County Jail inmates"; and a $5 million increase for mental health services, including $2.4 million for indigent care and $2 million for children's care. The Chronicle reports that the DPH "is the largest single item in San Francisco's budget, at $813 million" this year. Most of the funding comes from federal reimbursements; $185 million comes from San Francisco's general fund (Epstein, 5/24).