City Council Casts ‘Historic’ Vote to Create Los Angeles City Health Commission

Council votes unanimously for L.A. commission to oversee delivery of health services to City residents. 

Health Commission, which would be composed of 15 members appointed by the members of the City Council, would be required to publish an annual health services plan regarding the health needs and goals of the City and require the City Council to consider and respond to the Commission’s annual health services plan at a public meeting.  Los Angeles County provides health services in 85 of the 88 cities in the County—including Los Angeles—which represents 40% of the population of the County.

LOS ANGELES (May 27, 2013) Health and public policy advocates affiliated with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) applauded an historic vote by the Los Angeles City Council that paves the way for the creation of a Los Angeles City Health Commission to oversee delivery of health services to city residents.  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% of the population of the County.

In a unanimous vote earlier today, all 15 City Council members approved the creation of a Los Angeles City Health Commission, a body that would be composed of 15 members appointed by the members of the City Council. The Commission would 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 historic vote came in response to a ballot initiative spearheaded by five health and policy advocates affiliated with AHF that would have allowed Los Angeles voters to weigh in on creating such a Los Angeles City Health Commission.

In April, the advocates 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.

The measure would have likely appeared on the November 2014 Los Angeles City election ballot; 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.

“In its historic vote today, the City of Los Angeles is taking charge of its health services and moving to control its own destiny with regard to the health and welfare of its citizens through the creation of this L.A. City Health Commission,” said Michael Weinstein, president of AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative. “The commission presents a golden opportunity for increased accountability and input to City officials—and residents—regarding health services provided to the city.  For many, the status quo was simply not working. Today, there is a new day dawning in the City and County of Los Angeles. This could and should be a partnership that improves health outcomes while better targeting and deploying health services to city residents. We thank the City Council for recognizing the need for, and importance of creating such a city health commission.”

According to the petition language to be submitted by the proponents of the measure to City election officials, the proposed ordinance, titled,  ‘Creation of a Los Angeles City Health Commission. Initiative Ordinance, would:

“…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.”