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Assembly looks at wasteful health care district spending

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Monday, April 9th, 2012 at 5:44 pm in California Assembly, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics.

A friend and a foe of the Mt. Diablo Health Care District, targeted by local regulators for transfer to the city of Concord to eliminate costly elections and overhead, are among the speakers at Wednesday morning’s Assembly hearing on health care district.

Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review Chairman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, will lead the hearing starting at 9:30 a.m., which will be aired via webcast at the California Channel.

Mt. Diablo Health Care District board chairman Jeff Kasper is scheduled to speak, along with district critic and Contra Costa Taxpayers Association Executive Director Kris Hunt.  Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill will also testify. (Speaker list updated on 4/10/2012. LAV)

The Local Agency Formation Commission last month voted to dismantle five-member elected health care district board and turn over its limited remaining duties to Concord’s city council. The district hasn’t run a hospital since 1996. Since then, four civil grand juries and the Local Agency Formation Commission’s hired consultant have concluded that the district has spent the vast majority of its property tax proceeds — $240,000 a year — on elections, overhead and legal bills, with very few dollars going to community services or programs.

Mt. Diablo is a piker compared with other health care districts, according to a recent Bay Citizen analysis of similar agencies statewide.  It found a Peninsula district, for example, with $43 million in reserves that refused to help subsidize health insurance for the poor. It reported that 30 of 74 of California’s taxpayer-funded health care districts no longer run hospitals but continue to collect public dollars, diverting that money for administrative and legal costs, along with benefits for their directors.

“Allegations of administrative waste, wrong doing, and lack of appropriate spending priorities persist, while unmet health care needs linger in their communities,” wrote the committee in a news release about the hearing. “The committee will aim to uncover if health care districts are still the best use of public funds and if they are using their resources to promote public health and welfare, especially given the current health care environment in the state.”

The committee said witnesses will include representatives from the Peninsula Health Care District in San Mateo, the Beach Cities Health District in Redondo Beach, Mt. Diablo Health Care District in Concord, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, health care advocates and the Association of California Healthcare Districts.

The testimony will focus on the health care districts’ current and former purpose, funding mechanisms, Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) oversight, the current challenges of healthcare service delivery, if the health care needs of the state are being met and case studies of health care district expenditures, the committee said.

 

 

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  • JAFO

    Scheduled to testify before the Assembly Committee are three health care district representatives, including one from the now totally discredited Mt. Diablo Healthcare District, as well a representative from the Association of California Healthcare Districts. Gosh, I wonder what they’ll have to say? Talk about a stacked deck! The committee chair is the Assemblyman who recently sponsored successful legislation intended to limit the effectiveness of civil grand juries in California because he didn’t like the critical findings of a Sacramento grand jury regarding an agency under his supervision at the time. Ironically, readers may recall that four Contra Costa County grand juries recommended the dissolution of the Mt. Diablo Healthcare District. It’s probably unfair to conclude this in advance of the hearings, but this seems like a whole lot of window dressing. I don’t hold out much hope for a productive outcome.

  • http://www.cocotax.org Kris Hunt, CoCoTAX

    I was asked to speak and they are concerned about what can be done to help LAFCO’s regarding these districts. I am confident that if LAFCO had not been afraid of being sued they would have done the right thing and shut MT Diablo Health Care District down. Since MDHCD has a record of litigating (with taxpayer dollars of course) it was a real possibility.

    I will proudly be attending this session.

  • Elwood

    “I don’t hold out much hope for a productive outcome.”

    Of course not. It’s the CA leg.

  • Karen Mitchoff

    Lisa, I will also be speaking on Panel 3 addressing best practices on allocating grant dollars.

  • Lisa Vorderbrueggen

    Thanks, Karen. Should be very interesting!

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    I’d rather have a committee of garbage men reviewing “waste” in gov’t than a panel of politicos.