The Times is to be commended for your editorial that so clearly draws the connection between inadequate state funding for indigent health care and the recent closure of downtown hospital emergency rooms. Until the funding crisis is addressed, I fear additional emergency room closures throughout Los Angeles County.
On my motion, the Board of Supervisors agreed to immediately communicate the urgency of the situation to the governor and legislative leaders. While short-term measures will help, a stable, long-term revenue source is needed to help pay for emergency health care. Since over 65% of all trauma patients suffer from alcohol-related injuries, I think it only makes sense to increase the state tax on liquor to help pay these costs.
A proposed initiative to raise the state tax on cigarettes and earmark $300 million toward uncompensated medical care appears likely to qualify for the November ballot, and I urge voters to actively support it.
A new and stable revenue source for health care is the key to solving this problem. Without it hospitals are forced to compete in an economic environment where the pressures of the bottom line place human lives at risk.
EDMUND D. EDELMAN
Supervisor, Third District
Los Angeles County