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/ DEVELOPMENTS IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY

Supervisors to Oppose Hospital Bed Legislation

May 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES — In the latest skirmish in the seemingly unending war over the size of County-USC Medical Center, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose legislation in Sacramento that would compel them to conduct a study and hold public hearings if they rebuilt the quake-damaged facility at 600 beds, rather than the 750 sought by legislators.

The board voted to oppose the legislation by Assemblyman Antonio Villaraigosa (D-Los Angeles) over the objections of Supervisor Gloria Molina, who has long battled with her colleagues over the fate of the hospital in her district.

"It is a shame to go on record opposing this legislation," said Molina, who has joined with many medical experts who say a 600-bed hospital will be too small for the county's burgeoning population of uninsured residents.

With pressure from the federal government to cut its reliance on hospitals after its brush with bankruptcy, supervisors voted in 1998 to downsize the rebuilt hospital. They ran into opposition, not only from Molina, but from an unusually united group of Latino legislators who have withheld state funds from the county over the years to encourage the board to reconsider. The battle has soured the relationship between the board and Sacramento.

County Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen said he recommended that the board oppose Villaraigosa's legislation because it flies in the face of board policy that decisions should be made at the local level.

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