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GOP health insurance plan would hurt poor, elderly, says L.A. County chief

April 19, 2011 |  1:21 pm

William T Fujioka A Republican proposal to radically reshape Medicare and Medicaid, the federal and state-federal health insurance programs for the poor and elderly, would devastate L.A. County’s public hospitals and clinics, said County Chief Executive William T Fujioka.

“It would have a horrific impact on our programs and services, not only in direct context for the amount of funds we receive to support individuals who rely on Medicare and Medi-Cal for healthcare services, but what you’ll see is providers throughout the whole county who will stop seeing Medicare and Medi-Cal patients,”  Fujioka said Monday.

Because the Republican proposal would slash payments to physicians who care for the poor and elderly, Fujioka predicted such aggressive cutbacks would result in physicians deciding to stop seeing those patients.

“As a consequence … their only choice will be to come to the county. And you’ll see an impact on emergency services and an impact on every single county healthcare program we have,” Fujioka said.

Already, he said, county emergency rooms are overcrowded as the economy has worsened. State law requires the county to provide healthcare for people who have no ability to pay for their care.

House Republicans are supporting Rep. Paul Ryan’s proposal to convert Medicare into a largely private insurance program and turn Medicaid into a block-grant program administered by the states, while slicing almost $6 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.

Ryan’s plan would provide seniors with a subsidy they would use to purchase private insurance. Americans 55 years or older would stay in the current system.


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-- Rong-Gong Lin II at the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Photo: William T Fujioka in January 2009. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times