State Analyst Questions Emergency Preparedness Proposal
The Legislature should reduce by one-third a proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to spend $400 million on emergency preparedness, Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill said Monday in her review of the governor's fiscal year 2006-2007 state budget proposal, the Los Angeles Times reports (Halper, Los Angeles Times, 5/16).
In his revised May budget proposal, Schwarzenegger proposed $400 million in one-time spending for hospitals and public health agencies to provide medicine, equipment, special staff and emergency beds in the event of a natural disaster or disease outbreak. Schwarzenegger's proposal calls for spending about:
- $100 million for 7,200 ventilators;
- $53 million for 3.7 million courses of antiviral medicines;
- $50 million for special respirator masks for health care providers;
- $14.5 million to help hospitals develop surge capacity plans; and
- $12 million for two tent-based mobile hospitals, each of which could accommodate 200 hospital beds (California Healthline, 5/15).
Department of Health Services Director Sandra Shewry said the state plans to solicit multiple bids for purchases without completing the formal competitive bidding process. She said the Schwarzenegger administration plans to seek federal funds for some projects and minimize costs to the state.
Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) said the Legislature would review the emergency preparedness proposal closely (Los Angeles Times, 5/16). Nuñez said that emergency preparedness merits "a sizable investment" but added that such an investment should not affect benefits for Welfare beneficiaries or aged, blind and disabled residents (Furillo, Sacramento Bee, 5/16).
Hill also questioned a proposal to repay $1 billion in state debt ahead of schedule, citing the possibility of the state being required to increase spending on the prison health care system and other liabilities. Hill recommended using that money to pay off other state debts or to place it in a reserve fund (Harmon, San Jose Mercury News, 5/16). 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.