Calling conditions at some nursing homes “deplorable,” Supervisor Michael Antonovich on Tuesday called on state legislators to pay Los Angeles County more money to inspect healthcare facilities.

“This is a life and death issue,” Antonovich said.

About one-third of the state’s licensed health facilities are located in Los Angeles County, but the county only receives about 15 percent of the funding for licensing and certification, a top county health official said.

“This program is severely unresourced,” interim public health Director Cynthia Harding told the board.

The Department of Public Health has been plagued by complaints about backlogs in investigating problems at nursing homes and cases closed without sufficient scrutiny.

In response, new management has been put in place, employees are getting more training and workloads are more carefully tracked, but thousands of reports remain backlogged, Harding said.

The state inspects nursing homes in every other county, but contracts with Los Angeles County to make its own inspections.

That contract expires at the end of June and Harding said the county had to decide whether to turn the responsibility back to the state.

The state pays $26.9 million, which covers 151 employees and the county is funding a $2 million shortfall every month.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal calls for paying out an additional $9.5 million when the contract is renewed.

However, it is not enough, said Harding, who said the department would need another $14.3 million and 42 more employees to do everything outlined in the governor’s proposal.

The board voted to send a letter to legislators asking them to identify more funding for the effort as they negotiate the state budget.

The county needs to ensure that “the needs of those who are really incapable of taking care of themselves … are met,” Antonovich said.

City News Service

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