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State Must Help With Trauma Funds

September 17, 2000

The Times unfairly took the Board of Supervisors to task for the lack of trauma care funding in L.A. County (editorial, Sept. 12). The state Proposition 99 tobacco tax fund that California counties have tapped to fund trauma services has been reduced by nearly 80% over the last 10 years. Moreover, the current state budget cut an additional $10 million from that same fund. It is the cumulative impact of all of these cuts that has precipitated the current crisis. At a time when California is sitting atop a record-breaking $13-billion surplus, it surely seems possible that funds could be found to keep this vital program alive.

Despite Sacramento's failure to act, our board unanimously agreed to step in to rescue the system from imminent collapse and authorized the county's Department of Health Services to negotiate interim contracts with private hospitals at risk of leaving the trauma network.

That the county has stepped into the breach, however, does not relieve the state of its responsibility. In the months to come, we will continue to press our case in Sacramento--and, if need be, we will take it directly to the voters of California.

ZEV YAROSLAVSKY

County Supervisor, 3rd District

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The crisis in trauma center funding could have been averted if Sacramento weren't so stingy in refusing to return to the counties more of the local property tax revenues the state appropriated for itself during the recession of the early and mid 1990s. With state coffers bulging, one would think the solons in Sacramento could devise an equitable formula for subsidizing trauma center networks by taking into account population, health-care costs and the proportion of uninsured residents in each locale.

HAROLD N. BASS MD

Northridge

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