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Home > Health Topics > Podcasts > CCHS Director on Proposed Budget Reductions

CCHS Director on Proposed Budget Reductions

March 3, 2009

William Walker, MD
Director
Contra Costa Health Services

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Director's Report—Budget Update

Contra Costa County, like virtually every county in California, is facing staggering budget deficits that mean cuts in services and a reduction in our work force.

I'm Dr. William Walker, Director of Contra Costa Health Services and the County Health Officer, here to talk about some of the decisions we are being forced to make to help the County balance its budget.

We've been directed to cut 13.5 million dollars of County funding. Every time we have to cut our budget, we face very difficult questions about how best to use limited resources.

As the Director of a health department responsible for protecting human lives, I believe this kind of rationing is bad public policy and makes little sense.

Unfortunately, cutting millions from a budget year after year has left no easy choices. So I have submitted to the County Administrator a plan to exclude any Contra Costans who are undocumented, non-citizens, ages 19 and older from non-emergency outpatient services at our Health Centers. For those who are undocumented, we will continue to provide emergency care, related inpatient services and care for children and pregnant women.

Currently, we provide services to more than 5,000 undocumented Contra Costa residents. In dollars and cents, those undocumented residents use approximately six million county dollars in non-emergency medical services in our county Health Centers.

This shouldn't just be about money, but the fact is, we don't have enough funding to serve everyone who needs our help and right now, our County Health Centers cannot keep up with the ever-increasing demand for medical services. Patient appointments are usually filled by 8:15 AM every day, requiring long waits for future appointments.

As a physician and the County's Health Officer, it pains me to see us taking these steps backwards. I wish we didn't have to do this. I look forward to receiving help from Washington that will allow me to restore services and rebuild and strengthen the system I have spent my entire career nurturing.

In the meantime, I am hopeful that our community partners — other hospitals and health systems, And community clinics can help us fill this need.

Please visit our website at cchealth.org and read more about other budget reductions we have proposed to the Board of Supervisors. The calendar for adopting the county budget is also there.

Thank you for listening.


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