A bill that went into effect Jan. 1 preserves $300 million in federal funding ($100 million each year for three years) previously allocated to Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital for use by uninsured residents in South Los Angeles.
The money is being funneled through the South Los Angeles Medical Services Preservation Fund, established by SB474 (Kuehl) in October. The bulk of the funding will be used by the ambulatory care facility that King Hospital has now become, and another portion will be given to the seven hospitals that have contracted with Los Angeles County to provide services to residents who would have traditionally gone to King.
The seven hospitals are California Hospital Medical center, Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center, Downey Regional Medical Center, Lakewood Regional Medical Center, Memorial Hospital of Gardena, St. Francis Medical Center, and White Memorial Medical Center.
In addition, another portion of the funds will be used to contract with private community clinics that want to offer medical services to the residents surrounding the Watts-area hospital. A Request for Proposal process is currently seeking these health facilities.
If the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor’s aggressive plan stays on course, these services may only be needed for one year or so, because the county’s contracted search firm–Hammes Company–is in the process of reviewing proposals from three organizations interested in re-opening a full-fledged medical center at King. The health organizations were selected during a two-track process that included a Request for Solution (RFS). Five proposals were submitted in November, and Pacific Hospital of Long Beach was chosen from this group to go forward. At the same time, talks have been going on between the county and three or four other entities, and from that group Catholic Healthcare West, and the University of California have emerged as the front runners.
Hammes Company is currently interviewing the three final candidates and is expected to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors in February.
Without SB474 and the fund, the money previously allocated to King might have been either redistributed to other medical facilities within the state or sent back to the federal government for redistribution nation wide.