Supervisors Consider Options for West County Health Board

September 10, 2018 Updated: September 10, 2018

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 11, will take up whether to appoint a new West Contra Costa Healthcare District board of directors or to appoint themselves as the health care district’s new board.

It’s an important question now because of Senate Bill 522, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on July 18. The bill, introduced by Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, calls for the dissolution of the existing elected West Contra Costa Healthcare District board of directors, effective Jan. 1. This is primarily a money-saving move.

The district survives primarily as a vehicle through which to pay back bond issues. Certificates issued in 2004 and 2011, whose funds were used for improvements and to fund operating costs of the now-closed Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo. As of January 2017, the district owed approximately $57 million to the holders of those certificates; other significant district costs include worker’s compensation payments, pension plan payments, and administrative costs.

A board must be in place, county staff asserts, so financial decisions (primarily paying certificate holders and other bills) can be made in a timely way.

The district’s elected board of directors, by its nature, costs more than an appointed board. The district’s approved 2016 bankruptcy plan calls for cutting the district’s operating costs, in part, by moving the health care district’s board from an elected one to one appointed by the Board of Supervisors.

County Health Services Director Anna Roth recommends that the Board of Supervisors appoint themselves as an “ex officio” governing body for the health district. The supervisors are familiar with the West Contra Costa community, Roth contends and could manage the coordination of health care services between the county and the district.

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 11, begins at 9:30 a.m. in the supervisor’s chamber in the county building, 651 Pine St. in downtown Martinez.

By Sam Richards