California: Is There a Doctor in the House? The Economic Crisis Is Creating a Public Health Disaster, and Health Officials Warn the Worst Might Be Yet to Come
March 25, 2009
In the central San Joaquin Valley, local health department budgets are shrinking with the economic crisis, leaving many agencies struggling to fulfill their public health mission. Across the state, health departments rely on vehicle license fees for a large portion of their budgets. But car sales have plummeted, and the newly unemployed and uninsured are increasing patient loads just as fewer staff are available to meet the demand, officials said.
More services could be cut if budgets continue shrinking, health directors said. Last month, Fresno County supervisors cut 35 positions in public health. It is unclear whether a newly passed state budget to increase license fees will shore up departments' revenue gap, but health directors are not optimistic.
03.19.2009; Barbara Anderson