Measure would approve $1.5B for children’s hospitals


Cara Gonzales

Berenice Moreno, UT Community News Reporter

Voters will decide next week on a state ballot measure that would allow the state to issue $1.5 billion bond to improve and expand children’s hospitals.

Eight private nonprofit children’s hospitals and five University of California children’s hospitals will be eligible for the bond, including Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Long Beach and Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.

The measure would cost taxpayers $2.9 billion, according to the state legislative analyst’s office. The loan would take an estimated 35 years to pay off.

Some opponents of Proposition 4 say they don’t want to provide more state funding to children’s hospitals while others say the money should come out of the state budget so that taxpayers don’t have to pay interest on a loan.

Supporters say many low-income patients depend on the hospitals. Although a growing percentage of patients are on Medi-Cal, the state has one of the lowest rates of hospital   reimbursement in the country, according to the California Medical Association; Medi-Cal pays an average of $41.48 for an office visit, less than half the $102.45 that Medicare pays for the same service. The children’s hospitals rely on state funding as well as private fundraisers in order to pay their capital, according to arguments for the measure.

Several parents of children who are very ill told the UT they hope the measure will pass.

Viviana Moreno, a Harbor City resident whose 7-year-old daughter has tumor in her jaw, said the measure is important.

“As a mother who has a child with an illness, I’m thankful” for the hospitals and programs such as California Children’s Services, she said. “So prop 4 has my vote.”

Sujey Hackett, the mother of a daughter with leukemia, said her understanding is that very little state funding actually goes to children’s hospitals.

“With the high cost of living and…having to go through having a child with cancer, [it] isn’t easy. Our hospital has helped us through it all,” said Sujey Hackett. “I honestly think there should be more done for our children.”

The California Children’s Hospital Association — which represents the eight hospitals — sponsored the measure and the member hospitals have raised nearly $11 million dollars to promote the proposition, according to the California Secretary of State’s website.

Joe Pinto, a Cal State LA student, is ambivalent about the measure: “Children hospitals are doing great work, however, state taxes are already high and [this could] make Californians more in debt.”