Is Supervisor Gioia enabling?

Posted by Giorgio C. , February 04, 2014 at 06:25 AM

"What we learned from previous parcel taxes for the WCCUSD is that these taxes fell way short of supporting a quality education for all of our children, not just those in need. The parcel tax solution was a failed bandaid that just fell off, revealing an unhealed wound. What will we find when the current parcel tax bandaid on DMC falls off? "

The word is that Supervisor Gioia wants us to pony up another parcel tax for purpose of keeping the doors of Doctors Medical Center (DMC) open. The reasons given for the latest "fiscal emergency" range from fall-out from the Federal sequestering, the siphoning of patients as a result of lucrative plans offered by competing hospitals, a decrease in patients, inadequate Medicaid/Medicare reimbursements, and failed attempts at forming partnerships with other healthcare providers.

I should add that last week, a friend's mother passed away at DMC, so the importance of this institution is not lost on me. I've also waited, as Kaiser member, an entire day in the Kaiser Richmond ER to have my esophagus unblocked via endoscopy. An entire day sitting in a tiny ER room with a blocked esophagus was torture. The current Kaiser ER wait is much too long and will get longer if DMC closes. After DMC received 3 serious administrative penalties in 2008, including one stemming from the death of a patient, as reported here,

it is clear to me that an underfunded hospital is not an option. The excellent cancer treatment facility at DMC does not compensate for, nor does it excuse, poor delivery of care elsewhere in this hospital's program. The quality of a hospital is defined by how it treats all patients.

The Contra Costa Times reports that our county is the 4th highest taxed county in California, with West County possibly being taxed higher than our county average. Much of our property tax goes towards the West Contra Costa Unified School District. After local politicians like Senator Hancock and our supervisors and city council members worked in concert with state politicians to first bleed the local taxpayer dry for purpose of supporting a district containing some of the neediest children, the state has finally done what it should have done long ago. It is now funding schools according to student need. At what point will we apply the same strategy to our public hospitals?

Currently, Governor Brown, by his inaction, is telling our local politicians to bleed us some more, just as they did with the never-ending school taxes. The citizens of West County are being taken advantage because our politicians know we care about our kids and about those in need of quality health care. We are compassionate. Many of us are also in that middle class group (barely) that appears to be the piggy bank for local and Federal politicians.

What we learned from previous parcel taxes for the WCCUSD is that these taxes fell way short of supporting a quality education for all of our children, not just those in need. The parcel tax solution was a failed bandaid that just fell off, revealing an unhealed wound. What will we find when the current parcel tax bandaid on DMC falls off?

For this reason, I call upon Supervisor Gioia to stand up to our Governor and tell him enough is enough, that before you fund a high speed railway system, you need to divert resources to DMC. Many of these patients do not speak English, so their voice is compromised. West County is shouldering the burden of caring for the neediest, and we do so proudly. We will not give up on anyone. Still, I do not even know if the current quality of DMC is acceptable as the state inspecting agencies do not perform follow-up visits, even after the administering of such serious penalties. They only respond to complaints. It is this population of patient that is least able to articulate concerns and-or complaints regarding their healthcare. For this necessary institution, we need funding that is adequate and sustainable. The fact that we still do not have this is a cause for alarm. It signals that California is still failing at protecting the most vulnerable.

I respect Supervisor Gioia's revolutionary sprit. I just wish he would direct it at our leadership, not at the taxpayer. Supervisor Gioia has a degree in law. I'm guessing he is better able to weather such parcel taxes than many other West County taxpayers.


Louise B. February 04, 2014 at 05:21 PM
I wrote an e-mail to the supervisor just the other day in response to his interview in The Contra Costa Marketplace. Remember when we ponied up more taxes to "save" the hospital in Pinole and it still went down the tube? Our tax money was wasted! There are many reasons for the decline in revenue for the hospital. Here's the most current one: the Affordable Care Act which is cutting what Medicare and Medi-Cal will pay for services. Also the ACA doesn't address the uninsured illegal immigrants. It also allows more people to go on Medi-Cal by lowering the income standards. People on Medi-Cal DO NOT pay for their insurance.

Giorgio C. February 04, 2014 at 11:53 PM
Did he respond to your email?

Louise B. February 05, 2014 at 12:06 AM
He has not yet responded but I just sent it on Monday.

Selina Williams February 07, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Um, that is why we need single payer healthcare.

Louise B. February 07, 2014 at 07:07 PM
We can't afford Obamacare. It's going to add trillions to the debt which is already over $17 trillion. Who's going to pay for single-payer?

SalthePlumber February 07, 2014 at 08:20 PM
Selina is right. Single Payer Health Care is the way to go. (like; England, France, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Ireland, etc, etc, etc) Under Single Payer Everybody pays, just like Social Security and Medicare. American Single Payer Health Care would just be "Medicare for All". The sooner the better...

Phil Simmons February 07, 2014 at 08:32 PM
@Louise, Single payor would be paid by the same people that pay the insurance companies and that pay the uninsured medical cost now. And those pay methods (cost) will go completely away, as will the profit motives of the insurance companies. People that earn incomes but do not buy insurance would also pay, via their taxes. So, the cost would be distributed across the entire economy. And yep, Obamacare, which really is an outdated Republican plan, circa 1995-2000, is not the solution. It was the compromise that the Democrats made to try to satisfy the right. It should not be considered as a static unalterable plan. It is only the baseline for building a better system. The sooner everyone works together to implement Nationalized Health Care the better off we will be, not only in healthcare but in managing its cost.

Louise B. February 07, 2014 at 08:50 PM
I have had experience with single-payer plans, i.e. those in Canada and England. In England, my friend's mother, waited three years for knee replacement surgery. In Canada, another friend, waited six months for a hip operation. In another instance, she waited six hours to see a doctor when she injured her toe and was told after those six hours to go home because the doctors were too busy. The single-payer program in England is in big trouble financially. The population of Canada is about 35 million and in the United Kingdom 64 million, compared to our U.S. population of over 300 million. We will break the bank if we try to cover 300 million people with single payer. To the point about insurance companies' profits, they make about 2 - 3%. That's not a heck of a lot. Also, we have been told that there are 40 million uninsured in this country but I've not seen a rush of 40 million people to the exchanges. Let's face it, many people don't want to spend money on insurance and it's not just because they are "poor." They have different priorities and medical insurance isn't one of them. I know of several people who can afford insurance but spend their money on such things as updating their kitchen, buying a new car, etc. They are not financially responsible and there is no law that will make them so.

Phil Simmons February 07, 2014 at 09:13 PM
@Lousie, I would hope that the United States of America has the ability to provide National Health Care in ways that are better than what Canada and England do. Especially since we have years of historical information on the things that would need to be improved. I really believe that the U.S.A.has the ability to do great things and I do not believe that we should measure our abilities by the abilities of other Nations.

Louise B. February 07, 2014 at 11:42 PM
Phil, there are some things the U.S. cannot do well. A couple cases in point: (1) Medicare's Part A Trust Fund is projected to be insolvent by 2026. The total program has promised $35 trillon worth of benefits to current and future seniors that are NOT paid for. (2) The Social Security Administration states that a shortfall of funds is estimated to occur by 2033. However, the CBO projects that reserves may be exhausted by that date due to higher disability claims and high unemployment. The government doesn't run on hope; it runs on our taxes and it's not doing a good job of overseeing the social programs that, in theory, it hoped would work.

Giorgio C. February 07, 2014 at 11:45 PM

Phil Simmons February 08, 2014 at 01:32 AM
Louise, If you extend the debt out far enough it would probably be more like $3,500 trillion, maybe even an infinity of debt. The #,$'s you are referring to are a part of the overall unmanageable healthcare cost that have occurred over the past couple of decades. They are not the results of the Affordable Health Care Act. And they prove that there is all the more reason that the entire system needs to be changed. I really do not believe for a second that the health care insurance industry is going to implement those changes. And I do not believe for a second that those that oppose the new heath care act are going to implement those changes either. And leaving things the way the have been is not change. So...........????????

Giorgio C. February 08, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Quality indicators need to be clearly defined during such discussions. For example, such studies include life expectancy and infant mortality data, or frequency in which specific treatment recommendations were made for individuals with chronic disease, such as diabetes. I'm also paying attention to the issuance of citations to our healthcare facilities, such as those received by Doctors Medical Center. After a family member (who is a physician) had a close call (as a patient) at a local hospital, I reviewed the records for that hospital and saw that it had recently been cited by California Department of Public Health. Since then, this facility has received additional penalties. This caused me to take a closer look at "repeat offenders." CDPH informed me that they do not perform follow-up surveys with cited facilities, that they do not have the staffing for this. Shouldn't hospitals that have been cited for causing harm or death to patients be placed on probation, with increased monitoring of the facility? I think so, but we can't afford it. Here are some of the repeat offenders, the number in parentheses being the number of citations issued. For such discussions, we need to have a clear understanding of the system that is currently in place. Penalties issued as a result of complaints since 2008: 1. Alameda County: Kaiser(3), Alta Bates (2). 2. Butte County: Enloe Medical Center (3) 3. Contra Costa: Doctors Medical Center (3) 4. Fresno: St. Agnes Medical Center (4) 5. Los Angles: LAC/USC (5) 6. Marin: Marin General (3) 7. San Diego: Sharp Memorial (4) 8. San Francisco: CPMC (4), UCSF (8), Kaiser (3) St. Mary’s (2) 9. Stanislaus: Memorial Medical Center (3)