LOS ANGELES, Nov. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, healthcare, business, and labor organizations came together to announce the formation of the L.A. Coalition to Protect Public Health and Safety – a coalition to educate the public and advocate against a dangerous initiative that would force the City of Los Angeles to create its own independent public health department. For the past 50 years, the City of Los Angeles has contracted with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LADPHS) to provide vital health services to the City's four million residents. The initiative calls for the termination of that contractual relationship.
"As a healthcare provider working for the County Public Health Department, I can tell you firsthand that this measure would have disastrous effects on our ability to respond to outbreaks and prevent potential health threats," said Maribel Castillon, a Public Health Nurse and member of SEIU Local 721. "That is why we must do whatever we can to educate voters so they understand the importance of voting against this measure."
The measure is sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) and is strongly opposed by the Los Angeles City Council, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and organizations representing a diverse cross-section of Los Angeles. The coalition launched www.ProtectLA.org as a resource for the general public to learn more about the real dangers of the initiative and to sign on to the Coalition.
"The initiative to force the creation of a City Department of Public Health would not only generate a large new bureaucracy that duplicates the good work currently done by the County Health Department, but would also be a waste of $261 million to potentially $333 million annually in taxpayer dollars. All of this simply because one special interest disagrees with certain policy decisions. This is bad for residents, bad for business, bad for our city coffers, and adds nothing to anyone's health and wellbeing," said Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
The initiative, which is scheduled to be placed before Los Angeles City voters in June 2014, would force the City of Los Angeles to sever its contract with the County immediately upon certification of election results. The immediate severing of the contract will trigger an instant and perilous gap in healthcare services for Los Angeles City residents as the initiative gives the City only 120 days to create, staff and fully implement a new Public Health Department and forbids the City from contracting with the County for any such services in the meantime, regardless of need.
"Creation of a new Public Health Department will fragment our system, contributing to delays and inefficient use of health resources," said Jaime Garcia, Regional Vice President of the Hospital Association of Southern California. "It's unrealistic to replicate LA County Public Health's sophisticated infrastructure, which includes 24/7 public health surveillance, all within the span of a 120-days."
The concerns about the impact of the initiative are not limited to the healthcare community, but also shared among the business community, as the public health department is responsible for inspections and oversight of policies impacting the food-service and retail industries. This initiative could trigger duplicative inspections.
"One of the most concerning aspects of this proposal to the business community is the overlap that would exist between the city and county departments - such redundancy would add especially significant burdens to the food-service and retail industries in Los Angeles," said Stuart Waldman, President of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association.
In addition to jeopardizing public health and creating redundancy in services, the initiative also would also cost Los Angeles City taxpayers an estimated $333 million annually to operate the new department – funding resources that would likely need to be pulled from other public services, such as police and fire.
The organizations forming the coalition include the Hospital Association of Southern California, SEIU Local 721, Valley Industry and Commerce Association, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County.
To learn more and to join the L.A. Coalition to Protect Public Health and Safety, visit www.ProtectLA.org. You may also follow us @ProtectingLA.
SOURCE L.A. Coalition to Protect Public Health and Safety