Scully Promises To Help Los Angeles County Address Health System Budget Deficit, Will Not Provide Bailout
CMS Administrator Tom Scully on Wednesday met with Los Angeles County officials to discuss a budget deficit in the county's health system and said that the federal government would work with the county on a "permanent fix" for the problem but would not provide a third bailout, the Torrance Daily Breeze reports (Peterson, Torrance Daily Breeze, 11/8). The county health system faces an estimated $750 million budget deficit by 2005. The county received a $1.2 billion federal bailout in 1995 and an extension of the funds in 2000, but the bailout funds expire in 2005 (California Healthline, 10/24). Scully said the federal government would not "sign the size of check" required to balance the budget, adding that "there are ways funds could be shifted to provide more cash flow locally," the Daily Breeze reports. For example, Scully said that the passage of Measure B, which will raise property taxes to fund trauma care centers and emergency rooms in the county, will help address the problem. However, revenue raised by Measure B will cover only part of the budget deficit, the Daily Breeze reports. Scully also said that the county could use outpatient clinics to promote preventive care and reduce costs. County officials "tried to convey some of the urgency" of the problem and sought to "pin down" Scully for an additional meeting before supervisors vote later this month on whether to convert Harbor-UCLA and Olive View-UCLA medical centers to outpatient facilities and close dozens of public health clinics to help cover the budget deficit. "We have simply got to find a way to keep our trauma system open for the whole county," Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) said (Torrance Daily Breeze, 11/8).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.