State Budget Cuts Could Cause Reduction in Counties’ Health Services
Ventura County may need to reduce some health programs as a result of a $10 million cut in funding in the recently passed state budget, the Los Angeles Times reports. The loss of state money means $4.3 million less for the county's health care programs, according to the Times, and the reductions could "fall hardest" on programs that help people with mental illnesses to "get by on their own" (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 9/18). The Ventura County Star reports that the county will likely have to alter its Adult Systems of Care program, which provides housing, socialization, employment and other services for county residents with serious mental illnesses. Gov. Gray Davis (D) vetoed all funding for the program in the budget earlier this month, saying it is not accountable and lacks "measurable outcomes." In addition, the county may face reductions to $1 million in funding to help homeless adults with mental illnesses through programs established in 2000 under AB 34. These programs "show very definite cost savings and benefits," Pat Ryan, director of the California Mental Health Directors Association, said (Koehler, Ventura County Star, 9/18). The Times reports that the county might be able to use money from the state's share of the nationwide tobacco settlement to offset health care services funding cuts. Although the board that controls those funds is likely to resist such an idea, board Chair John Flynn said, "We are fundamentally responsible for providing basic human services. Anyone who comes to the hospital door has to be served. So we can't cut those services" (Los Angeles Times, 9/18).
In related news, San Diego County could lose up to $24 million in state funding, resulting in cuts to administrative services for Medi-Cal, among other programs, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The county's Medi-Cal program could lose up to $5 million. In addition, the county could lose funding for 50 administrative jobs, although county Chief Administrative Officer Walt Ekard said the county will try to eliminate vacant positions and use attrition to prevent layoffs. In addition, the Union-Tribune reports that trauma hospitals throughout the state could lose $5 million in state funding. San Diego County officials did not know specifically how local hospitals might be affected by the cut (Monteagudo, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/18).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.