VENTURA COUNTY: Medicare Fraud Settlement Threatens Reserve
As Ventura County supervisors prepare to continue debate Tuesday on whether to approve the county's proposed $15.3 million settlement with the federal government in its Medicare fraud case, some county officials are expressing concern about exhausting the county's reserves, the Los Angeles Times reports. "We'll have to cobble together money from different sources," said Supervisor Frank Schillo, adding, "We can't afford to have a lower reserve than we already have." One option, said County Auditor-Controller Thomas Mahon, is to divert funds from the $12 million the county expects to see from the states' tobacco settlement over the next two years. Another option is to use the county's $25 million reserve or to "cut programs or services." The county recently received a top rating for its short-term loan credit worthiness, and some officials fear the county's settlement may cause its rating to slide, endangering several "major capital projects," including a planned $63.5 million juvenile facility, a $15 million cafeteria and laboratory at the Ventura County Medical Center and a $5 million social services center. Perry Young of Standard & Poor's said that while his company typically awards Ventura County top marks for long- and short-term loans, "an empty reserve fund would almost certainly have a negative impact on the credit rating for the county's long-term loans" (Johnson, 8/1).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.