SLO County plans to cut health clinic funding

June 14, 2011

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors agreed at a meeting on Monday to cut $800,000 from Community Health Centers of the Central Coast.

Plans to reduce the CHC’s budgets from $3 million to $2.2 million could result in the closure of two clinics of CHC’s 17 clinics, the Morro Bay and Cambria clinics.

Ron Castle, chief executive officer of CHC, said the cuts would leave thousands of low-income people without access to health care.

Supervisor Bruce Gibson scolded Castle, who makes about $292,000 a year, for not reducing CHC management salaries.

“Their top management all make over $200,000 a year and in some cases, well over three hundred thousand dollars a year,” Gibson said.

On June 21, the supervisor’s are slated to make a final decision on the $800,000 proposed cut in funding.

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If we were talking about tiny tots medical care… but we are definitely not.

CUT it all… the county should balance it’s books, first. After all, they have a sewer to pay for or has everyone thought about that albatross?

The county should stop their internal financial hemorrhaging before it gets out of control.

Fiscal responsibility now or cataclysmic accountability by the electorate later.

I think that 280 – 300K are very high salaries. If they all cut their salaries in half they would have the 800K that has been cut, who is Congalton kidding?

I know of two hard working men who have had a difficult time during this economy. They both used to work on construction 7 days a week and have been lucky to work at all during the last two years. Both have lost their homes and are dependent on CHC for medication. One needs expensive heart medications and the other has diabetes. Both of them tell me that they often don’t receive their medication until their last dose has run out. Now what is going to happen to these people?

I think it’s an unfortunate kneejerk reaction to just make everyone take a 50 percent paycut. Ron Castle has been on the job for nearly 35 years and oversees 17 clinics. I don’t begrudge him $280,000. By contrast, the CEO at French, a nonprofit operation, hauls in nearly $1 million each year.

I feel sorry for your friends, Cindy. I know people who depend on CHC as well.

That $1 million a year is based off percentages of income brought him: French, like Cal Poly or any other “non-profit” compensates their fund-raisers with a percentage-bonus. It’s sad, and easy to be angry with, but have you seen how many improvements have been made to French over the years?

I do agree, I don’t begrudge Castle for his salary, either, but the evidence of true “belt-tightening” by CHC was not really made apparent. Sadly, it is the very government itself, where CHC gets most of its funding, that is costing CHC the most in fees, fines, and compensation.

I am surprised that this is the best argument Bruce Gibson–normally a sharp guy–can come up with. Yes, Ron Castle makes around $280,000 a year, but he’s also had the job since 1978. He’s hardly a Katie Lichtig situation. Even so, suppose Castle took a 50 percent pay cut, say all of management took a pay cut, what kind of dent would that make in the CHC situation? Barely a drop.

No, Gibson and Adam Hill are miffed that CHC tried to publicly spank them by reminding them of the county promise to continue health care for those in need after General Hospital closed. As hardcore liberals, they didn’t like being portrayed as the bad guys for pulling away the safety net. They’re trying to paint CHC as the evil people who dare make so much money.

So now it’s up to Ron Castle. Gibson claims he was bluffing about closing down Cambria. If Castle was serious about the dire financial situation, he has no choice but to close Cambria down. If he doesn’t then it was a bluff all along. It will be interesting to see what happens.

The bottom line for us all is this: Stay healthy, folks. You can’t afford to be sick.

That’s OLD WORLD heathcare: get sick, get dead. When I was in Ethiopia, and we drove past the local hospital (in Adwa, Tigray province), the lady with me said, “only dead people come out of there.” I chuckled, but she did not.

But I like your argument that even if all the management took a pay cut, barely a drop would be made… kind of like the arguments against raising taxes on the rich, eh? Take all of their money, and there still is not enough to pay our national debt, let alone the unfunded liabilities…

No, I disagree. Everyone needs to cut back during these hard times. I’m sure that there are plenty of people that could do Castle’s job and be happy to make half of what he does. I wonder how many upper admins with CHC are making more and how much they are making, that might be a good story for Karen or you Dave to investigate. Castle might be a great guy and a hard worker but the extra 100K that could be gained to help others would go a long way. If 100K each was gained by reducing only 4 execs pay then that would make up for half of what CHC is losing, that’s not a drop in the bucket. I wish I could find out how much they are making and how many of them are making over 200K.

I agree that everyone needs to cut back in these times. I think Gibson was looking for some give on the part of the CHC execs, much like the County unions have done. We’re in it together, the Supervisors took a 5% cut a couple years ago and if Castle etal want to make this work, they need to contribute. Imo, Castle was way out of line with his angry comments to Gibson.

There should be a way for tax payers to find out how much someone is making IF and only IF tax dollars are a significant part of their income/reimbursement (say, largest single contribution or a decent percentage, whichever is greater).

However, I do not like the tone some people take about what others earn. Typo, we’re on the same side on this story – I think we should know what the execs are making, and why it’s so much ONLY because they receive tax dollars. However, if there were no tax dollars involved (or it was only a minor portion), then we have no right to know, and less right to determine what is too much or enough. That is not a road we want to go down, even though the beginning of it feels good. That feeling will quickly turn sour.