Senator Scott Wilk, R – Antelope Valley, announces the introduction of Senate Bill 792 (SB 792), a measure which will bring accountability and fairness to the distribution of Los Angeles County’s trauma funding, saying to L.A. County: “Antelope Valley lives matter too”.
In the 2002 general election, residents of Los Angeles County passed Measure B; a special use tax of 3-cents per square foot on real property improvements to rescue and revive the failing LA County trauma network. In good faith, the people of Los Angeles County entrusted the Board of Supervisors to direct these funds in such a way that would most effectively benefit trauma service countywide. Unfortunately for communities in underserved areas like the Antelope and San Gabriel valleys, the Board has failed to carry out this task effectively.
Currently the County allocates over 75% of funds to the three county-run hospitals located in central Los Angeles. Other regions are essentially ignored. Antelope Valley Hospital, for example, sees 12% of trauma and emergency visits in Los Angeles County yet it receives only 0.5% of the Measure B funds. In a similarly underserved area of the County, residents in the Malibu and East San Gabriel Valley regions have no trauma center at all and must travel long distances, often by helicopter, to reach appropriate care during an emergency. This is not what the voters had intended when Measure B was passed.
“Trauma happens all over the region – not just in the central part of Los Angeles. Measure B funds should not be treated as a slush fund for LA County to beef up its own hospitals,” said Wilk. “The voters expected that money to be distributed fairly in order to accommodate the entire region’s trauma and emergency care needs.”
A 2014 report from the California State Auditor, titled “Los Angeles County Lacking a Comprehensive Assessment of Its Trauma System, It Cannot Demonstrate That It Has Used Measure B Funds to Address the Most Pressing Trauma Needs,” uncovered a host of issues with the administration of Measure B funds as well as deficiencies with the trauma network in whole. The report also offered a list of six recommendations to the Board in order to remedy the issues discovered during their investigation; all but one of which the Board refused to implement.
“More than 500,000 people live in the Antelope Valley,” continued Wilk. “Antelope Valley Hospital sees over 113,000 trauma or emergency visits annually and is an integral part of the region’s trauma treatment system. This hospital was built to accommodate about 36,000 trauma cases per year but sees three times more than that annually. To keep up with this growing demand, the hospital should be funded appropriately.”
SB 792 will establish the Measure B Oversight Commission. Made up of local appointees, the Commission will study and report on the administration of these funds and issue recommendations to achieve a more equitable distribution so that underserved and unserved area residents are taken care of.
“Antelope Valley lives matter, San Gabriel Valley lives matter. This is about doing what’s right,” Wilk concluded.