SAN JOAQUIN: County May Split Health Division
San Joaquin County Supervisor Dario Marenco plans to ask his fellow board members today to "separate" the county's Environmental Health division from the Health Care Services Agency. Marenco contends that the Environmental Health department, which makes surplus money inspecting restaurants, public swimming pools and dairy farms, is unfairly funding Public Health, its umbrella department. The Stockton Daily Record reports that other county officials are opposed to Marenco's plan. "Separating Environmental Health from Health Care Services ... would not result in any cost savings for the county, unless fees are increased to offset the increased costs," state County Administrator David Baker said in a written report. "From a cost perspective only, it is more efficient to maintain the current organization and retail the existing economies of scale." Marenco conceded that the split "might leave Public Health in a bad financial spot," but argued that "using fee-based profits to pay for something other than what they were intended to support is not fair to those who pay." Environmental Health brought in $3.5 million and spent $2.9 million, and Health Care Services charged the environmental department an additional $106,000 in "overhead expenses." When he requested the split earlier this year, Marenco argued that "the weight of the health care hierarchy" was keeping the environmental department from doing its job and the "the division provides little hands-on health service." Baker, however, contends that it "is an important component in the prevention of disease and protection of public health" (Adamek, 9/28).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.