“This is sending us into a tailspin,” said county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. “We believe this will adversely affect our county annually to the tune of $200 million. It will contribute to a degradation of public health, and it’s something that we’re going to fight very hard.” The Bush administration has long sought to limit Medicaid payments to public hospitals, but Congress in 2005 beat back legislation that would have imposed caps. This year, however, the administration changed tactics and moved to reduce about $5 billion in spending over the next five years by using a series of regulatory changes. Lawmakers from 42 states that depend heavily on such payments, however – including California, Illinois and New York – have been fighting back hard. “A cutoff of the funds would work a real hardship on those hospitals,” said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who led the fight to preserve the money by inserting a one-year moratorium on the new Medicaid rule in the $124 billion war supplemental. That measure, however, also included a controversial timeline for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. Bush this week called a deadline “irresponsible” and vetoed the bill. While new negotiations are in the works, domestic issues like hospital funding have fallen into the background as congressional leaders debate benchmarks and other ways to monitor progress in Iraq. Durbin said Friday he was uncertain whether the hospital protection will stay in. The funding reduction would hit five hospitals in Los Angeles County: Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. Yaroslavsky said the reduction would wipe out money Los Angeles County takes in from a 2002 ballot proposal that raised property taxes to generate about $180 million for trauma and emergency services. He also noted the county had not accounted for the possibility of losing the money when it determined its budget for the coming year. “It is money we have not assumed we’re going to lose,” he said. “We would have been foolish to make plans based on the worst-case scenario. We would have had to close hospitals.” At the same time, Yaroslavsky predicted, hospitals will have to shut their doors if Congress can’t protect the funding. “The ripple effect it will have on the private hospitals is quantifiable,” he said. “All the patients will have to go somewhere, and they’ll flood the private hospitals.” email@example.com (202) 662-8731160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Los Angeles County hospitals could become the newest victims in the ongoing battle between Democrats and the Bush administration over the Iraq war. Tucked into the war spending bill that President George W. Bush vetoed this week was a key domestic provision blocking the government from slashing $500 million in annual Medicaid payments to California’s public hospitals. With Congress and the White House now back at the bargaining table, health advocates said they worry hospitals will be overlooked in the high-stakes negotiations over management of the war. If the provision is dropped, it will mean a $200 million annual hit to Los Angeles County that officials said could force some hospitals to shut their emergency-room doors.
• Photo Galleries: Election day around the Valley | Pasadena and WhittierLA HABRA HEIGHTS – Planning Commissioner Layne Baroldi and businessman Howard Vipperman each won seats on the City Council Tuesday, upsetting three-term incumbent Fred Klein. Baroldi, 45, an attorney, received 952 votes or 40.9 percent of the vote; Vipperman, 58, owner of a rubber company, 699 votes and 30.1 percent. Klein, 62, received 426 votes and 18.3 percent of the vote, while Vincent Gomez, 41, an electrician, received 250 votes and 10.7 percent of the vote. All three challengers favored keeping the fire station at its present location next to City Hall. Baroldi questioned the proposed size of the new station. “You have to ask the question, `What was the architect trying to put there?’ I think there can be creative architecture to make it fit at the site,” he said. Gomez and Vipperman said council was not listening to the public when it voted for the Hacienda/West site for the new station. “The majority of City Council is not listening,” Gomez said. “They’re not listening to the people.” Some of the candidates said they favored having the city conduct a public survey to determine where residents would like the new fire station built. The candidates also disagreed on whether satellite fire stations should be built on the east and west sides of town. Klein said an automatic mutual agreement now being negotiated with Los Angeles County could provide protection for those areas. But the three challengers all said, if elected, they would be willing to consider building more stations. firstname.lastname@example.org (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! La Habra Heights Councilman Bruce Douglas, whose term also expired, decided not to run, creating a second open seat. “I’m obviously pleased,” Baroldi said. During the race, the biggest issue to emerge was the selection of a location for a new fire station. That question pitted Klein against the three challengers. The incumbent joined the majority in voting 4-1 vote to build the new station at the southwest corner of Hacienda and West roads. Klein defended his choice, saying building the new station at the Hacienda and West site is a better alternative to building the facility at the existing City Hall site.