Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Antelope Valley, announces Senate Bill 792, a measure to bring accountability and fairness to the distribution of Los Angeles County’s trauma funding has cleared its first hurdle with a vote of 8-0.
“The committee did the right thing in moving this bill forward,” said Wilk. “Trauma funds are paid by all L.A. County taxpayers with the expectation they would be distributed equitably and I am pleased my colleagues see the need for added transparency in this process.”
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 L.A. 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 76%, or about $190 million, of funds to three county-run hospitals located in central Los Angeles, leaving a pittance for other regions’ trauma needs.
Antelope Valley Hospital, for example, sees 12% of trauma and emergency visits in Los Angeles County yet does not receive a comparable share 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 are forced to 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 care is about saving lives. Folks in the Antelope Valley pay into the fund, but they don’t see an equitable share of the money,” said Wilk. “That is why I aim to create the Measure B Oversight Commission. A collection of community stakeholders that will make sure the money goes where it’s supposed to; to increasing the quality and availability of trauma services throughout the region – not just in central LA”
Sen. Tony Mendoza, D- Artesia, a principal co-author of the measure, testified alongside Wilk at the hearing added, “Establishing an oversight commission is a small step toward accountability and transparency on this issue and it is much needed and long overdue.”
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.