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O.C. board adds funds for trauma unit care

Supervisors allot $1.75million but reject plan to raise the money by hike in traffic fines.

December 13, 2006|Christian Berthelsen | Times Staff Writer

Orange County supervisors agreed Tuesday to allot $1.75 million in additional funding for emergency-room care over the next six months but balked at a proposal to raise the money by increasing fines for speeding, drunk driving and carpool lane violations.

The proposal was based on legislation passed in Sacramento earlier this year allowing counties to impose fees of 20% on the base fine for such driving offenses in order to fund pediatric and adult trauma care, payments for doctors who provide emergency care and other emergency medical costs.

But supervisors said they did not see enough evidence of the link between driving offenses and emergency-care costs. Rather than imposing the new fees on tickets, they voted to allocate the money from the county's general fund in the near term, then review the proposal to determine if it should be part of the county's long-term financial priorities.

"I see the causes right, but I see the revenue sources wrong," board member John Moorlach said.

A county staff report said imposing the driving violation fees would have raised an additional $3.5 million per year for emergency medical services. However, it said that amount would offset only 3% of unpaid costs borne by the county's trauma centers each year.

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christian.berthelsen@latimes.com

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