Open Letter From Jim Lott of the Hospital Association of Southern California, to the Members, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
LOS ANGELES, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Jim Lott of the Hospital Association of Southern California, sent the following letter, dated May 16, to the Members, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: May 16, 2003 TO: Members, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, Chair Supervisor Gloria Molina Supervisor Zev Yarslovsky Supervisor Don Knabe Supervisor Mike Antonovich FROM: Jim Lott, Executive Vice President Hospital Association of Southern California SUBJECT: Health Department Finance and Restructuring On behalf of the private-sector hospitals serving communities throughout Los Angeles County, please know that we empathize greatly with your frustration regarding the court's intervention in your efforts to restructure the County hospital system. As you know, in recent times many of our community hospitals have experienced government interference in their efforts to implement drastically needed economies as well. We are having difficulty, though, understanding the disparaging public rhetoric about private hospitals coming from members of your board and your health department. Though we haven't always agreed with some of your restructuring strategies, we have for the most part supported your efforts. For example, we actively supported and campaigned for the passage of Measure B last November, and we supported the federal proposal to divert another $50 million from the private hospitals' share of the Medi-Cal Outpatient Lawsuit Settlement to help shore up your health system. Moreover, in addition to providing much needed jobs and vital medical care to your constituents, private hospitals provided 35.1 percent of the inpatient hospital services needed by the uninsured residents of Los Angeles County in 2001. (This percentage is calculated from data reported by hospitals for calendar year 2001 -- the latest full year for which complete data is available -- and it represents the percentage of inpatient discharges where no health insurance and/or government funding source was identified.) And private hospitals did this without Realignment dollars and other subsidies available to County hospitals to help defray the cost of providing hospital inpatient care to the other 64.9 percent. Likewise, we are confident that much has not changed since 2001 because the number of transfers of indigent patients from private hospitals to county hospitals has steadily declined since 1999. We felt we needed to point these things out because the public comments attributed to County officials imply that private-sector hospitals somehow are not contributing "their fair share ... " during these financially desperate times for County hospitals and, we would add, many private-sector hospitals. Also, we believe that the comparisons being made about how indigent medical care delivery policies and programs work in other counties versus Los Angeles County lack merit and are therefore pointless to put forth. We must remember: (a) the number of uninsured residents residing in Los Angeles County outnumbers the entire populations of all but maybe one of the remaining 57 counties in California; and (b) six of the remaining 26 county hospitals in California are located in Los Angeles. Our needs and the demands placed on our public and private hospital system are vastly different and more severe than those experienced by any other county in our state or any municipality in the nation, except for maybe New York City. Looking forward, we need and want to work with you in keeping our fragile public and private hospital emergency services system viable. As you know, at any given time, ambulances are scrambling with critically ill patients on board to find emergency rooms that are not closed due to overcrowding. For this and other equally compelling reasons, we must work together to maintain our current symbiosis and to produce the synergies needed to resolve the problems facing both sectors. Accordingly, we look forward to working with you on the following: -- Improving access to care for the uninsured and underinsured populations. -- Securing adequate funding for safety net providers that serve poor and uninsured patients. -- Insuring that payments to hospitals are sufficient to cover the rising cost for providing medical care and to secure financial stability. -- Securing financial sources for building projects required by the state seismic-safety laws. -- Building a health care workforce that can meet the service needs of our expanding and aging population. -- Opposing further unfunded government mandates. As always, please call on our organization to help with this agenda and any other issues that need to be addressed to keep both hospital sectors from entering a financial meltdown. cc: David Janssen, CAO Tom Garthwaite, M.D., DHS Director
SOURCE Hospital Association of Southern California
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