Hospital districts under fire for spending patterns

Hospital districts in California are coming under increased scrutiny from lawmakers and activists over how they spend their taxpayer dollars, The Bay Citizen reported.

About 30 of California's 74 healthcare districts no longer manage hospitals. However, some, such as the Peninsula Health Care District just south of San Francisco, have more than $43 million in cash on hand. Despite its largesse, the district has balked at providing funds to subsidize the healthcare of its low-income residents, according to a previous Bay Citizen article.

A state legislative board, the Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review, held a hearing earlier this month on the topic. It was regaled with stories of districts no longer operating hospitals, but still stockpiling money and often spending on administrative and overhead issues, according to the news organization.

In one example, Beach Cities Health District, south of Los Angeles, spent $6.3 million of its $10 million annual budget on salaries for consultants and other professionals, but little more than $1 million on healthcare grants, the Bay Citizen reported.

Among that district's more dubious grants: distributing gym memberships to local police officers and firefighters. Only about 2 percent of the recipients actually use them, according to testimony before the assembly.

To learn more:
- read the Bay Citizen article
- check out previous Bay Citizen coverage of health districts
- read the Peninsula Health Care District statement on the legislative hearing