As part of its ongoing campaign to improve the delivery of health services, including HIV/AIDS clinical care as well as including HIV and STD prevention services throughout Los Angeles, health and public policy advocates from AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will host a press teleconference, Monday, February 18th, at 10:30 AM Pacific to announce the launch of a petition drive for a ballot initiative to allow Los Angeles voters to weigh in on creating a separate City of Los Angeles Public Health Department.
Currently, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health oversees health services in 85 of the 88 cities in the County-including the City of Los Angeles. Advocates believe the County public health system is too vast and inefficient a bureaucracy that oftentimes jeopardizes the public's health. The City of L.A. last had its own independent Public Health Department in 1964, and thereafter has contracted with the County for its public health services.
According to the petition language submitted by the proponents of the measure to City election officials, the proposed ordinance, titled, "Creation of a City of Los Angeles Public Health Department. Initiative Ordinance," would:
"…require the City to establish its own, independent City's Public Health Department. The ordinance would preclude the City's current practice of contracting with the County of Los Angeles for the enforcement of public health laws. The ordinance specifies that the City's Public Health Department would be the only governmental entity authorized to regulate and enforce City and County public health laws within the City of Los Angeles. The ordinance would provide that costs for the creation of the City Public Health Department be derived from current fees paid to the County of Los Angeles for the County's enforcement of public health laws in the City of Los Angeles. The ordinance also would allow for future revenue to be generated by collections of fees associated with the regulation and enforcement of the Public Health Code."
"A lack of professional leadership and accountability in the Los Angeles County Public Health Department has led to rampant cronyism and a repeated refusal to adhere to standing state and federal laws. The County oversees health services in 85 of the 88 cities in the County, and the fact that its�director�answers to no one-coupled with�under-the-table dealings and favoritism within the institution-has left the people living in those cities-in particular, those in the City of Los Angeles, at high risk for medical inefficiencies in the event of a virus outbreak or epidemic," said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative. "As members of�the�AHF team, we fight every day to provide treatment, prevention, and�advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Now, we must unite to ensure the foundation upon which our and other heath providers' work is done-the government-supported public health system in our founding region-is solid and free of corruption. This is why we are launching a ballot measure to allow City voters to decide on creating a separate and independent City of Los Angeles Public Health Department."
Background on AHF's City of Los Angeles Public Health Department Initiative Ordinance
AHF anticipates that once the petition language has been certified by City of Los Angeles election officials, its signature gatherers will need to collect 45,252 valid voter signatures (110% of the required 41,128, a number based on the last Mayoral vote) but the group will likely collect as many as 70,000 as a cushion. In 2012, AHF collected approximately 70,000 signatures for its City of Los Angeles Adult Film Permit Measure, which the City Council ultimately adopted into law outright rather than placing it on the ballot. AHF officials expect the City Public Health Department initiative question will most likely be placed before voters on the ballot for the June 3, 2014, statewide primary election-an election administered by the County.
TEXT OF PROPOSED MEASURE:
Section 1. Title.
This ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the "City of Los Angeles Public Health Protection Act."
Section 2. Findings and Declarations.
The people of the City of Los Angeles hereby find and declare all of the following:
(a) The promotion and protection of public health is one of the highest duties of government;
(b) Despite this importance, the City of Los Angeles does not have its own ability to promote and protect the public health of its citizens. Instead, it currently contracts out this responsibility to the County of Los Angeles;
(c) This arrangement has resulted in a waste of money, as fees paid to Los Angeles County under this arrangement have subsidized the healthcare needs of other areas of the County;
(d) This arrangement has also resulted in failures to prioritize the healthcare needs of the residents of the City of Los Angeles, to their detriment.
Section 3. Purpose and Intent.
The people of the City of Los Angeles hereby declare their intent and purpose in enacting this ordinance to be to better promote and protect the public health of the City of Los Angeles by establishing a City of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which will be responsible for promoting and protecting the public health, and enforcing public health laws of the City of Los Angeles.
Section 31.10 is hereby added to the City of Los Angeles Public Health Code to read as follows:
Section 31.10. Protection of Public Health.
(a) The people of the City of Los Angeles wishing to place the highest priority on the protection of the public's health have voted to re-establish an independent city health department. Since 1964, the City of Los Angeles has contracted with Los Angeles County for health services despite the fact that the largest share of funding for health services flowing from state and federal sources is directed at City residents. As such, City resources are going to subsidize wealthier cities (per capita) with much smaller populations of needy people. Three cities in Los Angeles County - Long Beach, Pasadena and Vernon - have retained their own health departments which are better able to address the needs of these individual cities.
(b) The City of Los Angeles shall establish a Los Angeles Health Department ("Department") to administer and enforce public health laws in the City of Los Angeles.
(c) All costs for the establishment of the Department shall be derived from current fees collected and paid to Los Angeles County as a result of its activities to enforce public health laws in the City of Los Angeles.
(d) Future revenue for the Department shall be generated from the collection of all fees, including, license, permit, and/or certification fees generated by the enforcement of the Public Health Code.
(e) The Department shall be established within 120 days after this ordinance is enacted.
(f) The City of Los Angeles shall be the only governmental entity able to enforce the public health laws of the City and/or the County of Los Angeles within the City of Los Angeles. The City of Los Angeles shall not contract with or otherwise provide for enforcement of public health laws to the County of Los Angeles.
Section 5. Severability.
If any portion of this ordinance is for any reason held to be unconstitutional, invalid or unenforceable by a court of competent jurisdiction, that invalidity shall not affect the remaining portions of this ordinance which can be implemented without the invalid provision, and, to this end, the provisions of this ordinance are severable.
Section 6. Competing Measures.
In the event that this measure and another measure or measures relating to the establishment of a health department in the City of Los Angeles shall appear on the same ballot, the provisions of the other measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this measure. In the event that this measure shall receive a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this measure shall prevail in their entirety, and the provisions of the other relating to the establishment of a health department in the City of Los Angeles shall be null and void.
Section 7. Amendment and Repeal.
The provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code added by, amended by, or contained in this initiative measure may be amended to further its purposes by ordinance passed by a majority vote of the Council and approved by the Mayor. The provisions of the Los Angeles Municipal Code added by, amended by, or contained in this initiative measure shall not be repealed, except by an ordinance adopted either by petition or by the Council at its own instance and adopted by a vote of the electors, or by an amendment of the Charter superseding the aforementioned provisions.
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About AIDS Healthcare Foundation
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to nearly 200,000 individuals in 28 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook (News - Alert): www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter (News - Alert): @aidshealthcare.