Stanislaus County Budget Issues Could Result in Health Care Service Reductions
Stanislaus County might reduce county health services because of an $8.6 million deficit in the fiscal year 2005-2006 budget, the Modesto Bee reports. The county Health Services Agency's budget has increased by 7.7% since FY 2004-2005, totaling nearly $101 million for FY 2005-2006, or about 12% of Stanislaus County's entire proposed budget.
As a result, county officials might consider closing clinics and reducing services if the deficit cannot be eliminated through a combination of federal and state funding, according to Patty Hill Thomas, the county's assistant CEO. Hill Thomas said the county has 60 to 90 days to consider changes to HSA, which operates seven health clinics in the county and last year provided services to 80,000 county residents.
Officials say that financial issues at the state level could force further reductions in services in other county programs. For example, the county's Behavioral Health and Recovery Services Department -- which administers services to the homeless, unemployed and mentally ill -- and the Community Services Agency, which administers in-home services, could experience service reductions.
Hill Thomas said, "HSA is the single biggest fiscal issue facing the county right now," adding, "[S]o far, we don't know what the solution is."
Stan Risen, an assistant executive in the county CEO's office, said, "The most important thing to decide is whether (the county) can afford to stay in the business of nonmandated health services." He added, "[I]f we do, how can we balance these costs? We can't afford to lose $8 million to $9 million a year on health services."
Supervisors will vote on June 14 whether to accept the budget proposal. All changes will be included in the final version of the FY 2005-2006 budget that will be reviewed by the county Board of Supervisors in September, Hill Thomas said (Hood, Modesto Bee, 6/4).