Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Restoring County Health Care Funds Lost Through ‘Poison Pill’ Measure
As expected, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Tuesday signed into law a bill (AB 1457) that will restore as much as $160 million in health care funding for counties jeopardized by a "poison pill" measure included in a state law regarding vehicle license fees, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Gardner, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/5). In 1982, the state transferred responsibility for indigent care to counties and provided them with additional sources of funding. In 1991, the vehicle license fee was increased to provide more funding to counties for health care programs, and that measure included a provision stating that if any county successfully challenged the state in court or filed any appeals, the funding would be revoked for all counties. The poison pill measure was activated March 1 after the state Supreme Court upheld a 2003 appellate court ruling that awarded $3.4 million to San Diego County for indigent care costs. Counties statewide faced losing tens of millions of dollars in funding for health, mental health and social service programs. The legislation will restore funding only for the remainder of this fiscal year; additional legislation will be necessary to maintain the funding to counties for FY 2004-2005, which begins July 1 (California Healthline, 5/4). According to San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, the county would have pursued legal action against the poison pill provision if the county's initial effort had been unsuccessful. Cox said, "Who knows how long that would have dragged on? A lot of citizens would not have received the services they need and deserve" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/5).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.