LOS ANGELES – Antelope Valley Hospital filed a claim Monday against Los Angeles County and its Board of Supervisors for failing to properly administer and allocate billions of dollars of property tax revenue per Measure B to L.A. County trauma centers.
The hospital’s legal team will hold a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles to detail the next steps to be taken by AV Hospital to protect its interests and its patients.
Approved by voters in 2002, Measure B is an annual special parcel tax to provide funding for expanding a county-wide system of trauma centers and increase readiness in the event of a biological terrorism attack.
AV Hospital, which serves 5 percent of the County’s population and handles nearly 12.5 percent of the County’s trauma and ER visits, receives less than one-half of 1 percent of all Measure B funds annually, according to the hospital’s attorneys, McNicholas & McNicholas and The Sutton Law Firm.
AV Hospital alleges that the County consistently failed to conduct comprehensive assessments of its trauma system, failed to use Measure B funds to address the County’s most pressing trauma needs, and failed to fulfill the intent of Measure B to expand trauma services countywide.
The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit that will seek equitable relief, economic damages and other appropriate relief on behalf of AV Hospital, representatives said in a press release.
“This is not how the voters intended their tax dollars to be allocated when they voted for Measure B,” stated Patrick McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas. “The harm inflicted on AV Hospital and its community is exactly what Measure B was trying to prevent when it was enacted. The time has come for AV Hospital to stand up for the funding to which it is legally entitled.”
“The County and Board of Supervisors quickly disbanded Measure B’s mandatory Oversight Committee – established to ensure proper distribution of the billions of dollars generated – leaving no independent oversight whatsoever,” stated Dr. Larry Stock, Medical Director of the AV Hospital Emergency Department. “Further, while other hospitals such as Ronald Reagan UCLA and LAC + USC Medical Center are being funded by the State and County, AV Hospital is consciously being underfunded and ignored.”
“As a not-for-profit district hospital, we are hopeful that litigation can be avoided,” stated CEO of AV Hospital Dennis Knox in a news release. “However, we will take the necessary steps to assure that we can continue to provide critically needed health care services to the thousands of L.A. County residents who rely on us daily, as we have for the past 60 years.”
Background on AV Hospital and Measure B
More than 25 years ago, Los Angeles County’s trauma centers began to withdraw from the system due to the increasing cost of uncompensated care for patients with no insurance or ability to pay for emergency services. In response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Measure B’s parcel tax was created to avoid the life-threatening shutdown of Los Angeles County’s trauma network and to expand emergency medical services.
In November 2002, Measure B, entitled “Preservation of Trauma Centers and Emergency Medical Services; Bioterrorism Response,” was voted into law by more than 73 percent of the County’s voters. The Board of Supervisors implemented the Measure B parcel tax of 3 cents per square foot on structural improvements to real property, increasing this tax gradually over time. In Fiscal Year 2011-2012 alone, the measure generated more than $256 million in revenue.
According to a State Auditor’s report, the County gave more money in the past few years to its own County non-trauma hospital than it gave to all 12 non-County trauma hospitals combined. [Read the report here.]
AV Hospital serves 5 percent of Los Angeles County’s population, yet receives less than any other trauma and non-trauma center in the County – less than one-half of 1 percent of all Measure B funds annually.