By Ryan Gierach, West Hollywood, California
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) announced today that the foundation’s move to create a commission that would oversee delivery of public health services to Los Angeles residents had become law.
In April, AHF says it submitted 103,093 voter signatures (needing 67,635 valid signatures) to qualify the measure.
In early May, Jimmy Pak, Chief of the Election Division of the Los Angeles City Clerk’s office, issued a ‘Certificate of Sufficiency’ formally notifying proponents that a sufficient number of voter signatures the group had submitted in support of the measure had been validated, and that as a result, the measure qualified to be placed on a ballot before City of Los Angeles voters.
However, under election law, the measure also had to be placed before the Los Angeles City Council for its consideration. The Council had the option of either adopting the measure outright as written and submitted or allowing it to proceed to a formal citywide vote by Los Angeles residents. The Council unanimously adopted the measure.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation had intended to place a ballot measure that would have created a Public Health Department for the City. The LA County Department of Public Health currently carries out health delivery for LA residents.
Lacking support for that effort, AHF went this route. Because the bill would have to be signed or vetoed within ten days of passage, and Mayor Garcetti failed to take any action, the law goes into effect automatically.
Health advocates rejoiced. “There is a truly new day dawning in the City and County of Los Angeles as a result of this L.A. City Health Commission measure becoming law today,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative.
“This commission offers a golden opportunity for increased accountability to City officials—and residents—regarding health services provided to city residents. This commission could and should be a partnership that improves health outcomes while better targeting and deploying health services to city residents. We are thrilled with its adoption into law and pledge to monitor its creation and progress over the coming months and years.”
The law will: “…create a Los Angeles City Health Commission composed of 15 members appointed by the members of the City Council. The proposed ordinance requires the new Commission to publish an annual health services plan regarding the health needs and goals of the City. The proposed ordinance requires the City Council to consider and respond to the Commission’s annual health services plan at a public meeting.
The County of Los Angeles now provides public health services in the City. The proposed ordinance requires the Commission to review and report on a sample of the County’s contracts for health services in the City. The proposed ordinance requires the City Council to evaluate whether the City should continue to contract with the County for public health services and to study the feasibility of creating an independent City health department.”
According to AHF, “Los Angeles County currently provides health services in 85 of the 88 cities in the County—including the City of Los Angeles—which represents 40 percent of the population of the County.
“The advocates behind the ballot measure believe that City of Los Angeles residents are often short-changed in health services provided by the County and believe a City Health Commission might provide a new level of accountability and oversight.” The Los Angeles City Health Commission will be composed of 15 members appointed by the members of the City Council.
The Commission will be required to publish an annual health services plan regarding the health needs and goals of the City and also require the City Council to consider and respond to the Commission’s annual health services plan at a public meeting.
The LA County Department of Public Health has come under fire recently for having a cultural tin ear regarding the gay community and clusters of meningitis. The department initially neglected to report that three of the eight cases of meningitis reported in April had died, leading to cries of outrage.