City-specific health care not a smart plan

In Opinion

According to the Los Angeles Times, The AIDS Healthcare Foundation feels that creating its own health department for the city of Los Angeles separate from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health would only help with the proper care of current HIV/AIDS patients.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) feel because the county is so large, the care when it comes to HIV/AIDS patients is utterly atrocious. Therefore creating a smaller health department would do nothing but benefit the current situation towards disease control.

“A lack of professional leadership and accountability in the Los Angeles County Public Health Department has led to rampant cronyism and a repeated refusal to adhere to standing state and federal laws,” said Michael Weinstein, the President of AHF, to the Los Angeles Daily News.

While understanding the frustration that Weinstein has towards the County may help in understanding what the nonprofit group is going through, it still doesn’t take away the fact that the city of Los Angeles does not have the resources, nor the funds to be able to afford a separate health department.

The cities that currently have their own health department you can count on one hand. In other words, there are very few that practice this policy, let alone do it successfully.

Four California cities—Long Beach, Berkeley, Pasadena and Vernon—all have their own public health departments, and the AHF want Los Angeles to be the fifth city with that title.

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the money the city has been provided is hardly paying for what is necessary now.

“In addition to the concern that an L.A. city health agency would duplicate county efforts, residents should worry about where we’d get the estimated $200 million a year to pay for it, $200 million being about the amount of the city’s projected annual budget deficit,” reads an editorial by the Press-Telegram staff.

Some things to think about: If the AIDS Healthcare Foundation did receive the funds to build the separate health care center, how would the employees be paid? How would the upkeep be kept up? Would the money be raised? With the budget clearly on edge, how can an added expense such as creating a separate health department benefit anyone?

There is simply no way it could. These are all things that could be possible, but would need a proper plan to be able to implement all the components that are essential to run a separate health department.

“It would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the city to get in the business of healthcare,” said Miguel Santana, city administrative officer, to the Times. “The city is simply not in the position to take this on.”

Santana also mentioned that the city is having enough trouble attempting to maintain police, fire and others during these times of budget cuts.

With that said, I strongly disagree with how the AIDS Healthcare Foundation is going about this goal, by highly encouraging residents to sign the 2014 ballot measure. Instead of encouraging voters to vote for the ballot, the AHF are encouraging the voters to help “force” the city of Los Angeles to create its own health department.

I believe there are other ways that would not only help with the votes, but also allow them to not burn so many bridges along the way. What would a presumed solution be? How about a separate health department paid for through grants, or possibly money raised from fundraisers or scholarships.

Even with this possible solution, the money raised still may not be enough, but I say if it’s worth it to them, it’s more than worth a try.

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