VENTURA COUNTY: Mental Health Deficit Probe Prompts Superagency Blame
Ventura County Health Care Agency Director Pierre Durand has asked the county auditor to investigate a $1.5 million shortfall in the mental health department. At least one official is blaming the mushrooming deficit on the botched merger of the county's Behavioral Health Department and the Public Social Services Agency into one superagency, the Los Angeles Times reports. Auditor- Controller Thomas Mahon said his department will look at "how serious" the deficit is, "what caused it and what could be done to offset it." County Supervisor Frank Schillo, who strongly opposed the merger, said the mental health department "had whittled down the deficit" beforehand, but "now up pops $1.5 million." He added, "There's going to be costs associated with a mismanaged merger." Supervisors Kathy Long and John Flynn, who supported the merger, downplayed the significance of the deficit. "This doesn't alarm me at all. ... It's more of a bookkeeping issue," said Long. Barbara Fitzgerald, who took the helm of the short-lived superagency, said the attributed the deficit to as-yet unreceived state and federal funding (Johnson, 2/11).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.