Deukmejian's letter points out an unfortunate lapse in communication and understanding between the county and state governments. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appreciates the $30 million in state financial relief given in the form of an unrestricted block grant. That money was used to support necessary county programs, some of which were health services slated for reduction or elimination.
However, while the governor mentioned that the unrestricted monies could be used by counties to support locally developed programs like the Los Angeles County's trauma care system, it must be noted that the governor's veto of $240 million in health programs statewide resulted in a major deficit in health services California counties are mandated to provide. This deficit can in no way be made up by the unrestricted funds mentioned by the governor.
Moreover, the state's role in the delivery of all types of health care services must not be ignored. Although Los Angeles County's trauma care system is a locally conceived program, it follows state-mandated guidelines, and is dependent on state funds which support county-operated beds. Private hospitals which are members of the trauma care network cannot transfer indigent patients to county hospitals if there are no county beds available to them. Thus private hospitals must bear the expense of treating the indigent patients they are unable to transfer. This situation has already led to four trauma care hospitals dropping out of our trauma network.
The rising occurrence of uninsured indigent patients, in conjunction with state cutbacks in Medi-Cal and the Medically Indigent Services Program, are placing great financial strains on both public and private hospitals. Clearly the public supports the county's trauma care system, and sustained efforts must be directed toward the governor to urge him to restore important state-funded health programs upon which a viable trauma care system depends. It is this interdependence that Deukmejian fails to understand.
EDMUND D. EDELMAN