On Health Care


July 29, 2003


Hospitals feel state budget crunch

Issues that affect hospitals may not be on your list of every day concerns, until you need the incredible people and technology within their walls. If it affects hospitals, it affects the health care safety net of physicians, nurses and clinics that are standing ready for you.

Health care is one of the areas that will suffer the greatest impact of California's financial woes. As we all are engrossed by the daily budget news out of Sacramento, we become immune to some of the numbers -- a billion here, millions there, the gigantic loops that direct money from the State to our counties and cities. It is difficult for each of us to calculate how cuts, cost shifts and tax hikes will affect us directly. We generally know that we will pay more for less and that there is no easy answer.

Your hospitals have been doing the same calculations -- what services will get cut, how it will affect our patients and our community, how we will respond to the challenge and continue providing our community with the highest level of care, quality and access, in a cost effective manner.

The buck stops with hospitals. You hear about the crisis of Medi-Cal and Medicare underfunding, the staggering number of uninsured patients, increasing unfunded mandates, nursing shortages, physicians leaving California, seismic retrofit requirements, rising pharmaceutical costs and costly technology improvements.

Each element of the health care system has its own pressures and challenges, and the hospital is where it all meets. When each factor in your health care delivery is getting squeezed financially, it all comes together at the hospital, where you benefit from the most highly trained professionals, cutting-edge technology, and pharmaceuticals coming together with lifesaving and quality-of-life saving results for patients.

Hospitals are uniquely qualified to deal with the delicate balance of providing the highest quality care and controlling rising costs, but must participate in the difficult decisions shaping the future of health care delivery and cost.

Your local hospitals are ready and waiting to help you and your loved ones, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether or not Sacramento legislators pass a budget this summer, whether or not the state is running on IOUs.

Escoboza is president of the Healthcare Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties, a nonprofit organization representing more than 40 hospitals, health systems and physician groups in the two-county area.


July 29, 2003