News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
Outstanding Nurses of 2018
This week is National Nurses Week, and, in the spirit of the week, each Board office recognized outstanding nurses from their district, naming them 2018’s Outstanding Nurses of the Year. I was very pleased to honor two very special nurses from the 3rd District: Lili Nian, a lead nurse at our innovative new youth probation facility, Campus Kilpatrick, and Dora Crespo, who has been an inspirational nurse at the Department of Health Services for 29 years!
There’s a wonderful adage about nursing that goes: to be a nurse you have to have the memory of an elephant, the patience of an angel, a heart as big as a lion, eyes on the back of your head, and arms like an octopus.
Nurses work day in and day out to provide outstanding care for their patients, using a healing mix of professionalism and compassion. Nurses serve everywhere from the front lines of the ER to behind the scenes in the lab. They care for patients in hospitals and other medical facilities, out in the community, at homes and around the globe. Whether they are providing medical expertise or a caring touch, nurses are always working to provide the best health outcomes for their patients.
Nurses are trusted confidantes, leaders, clinicians, researchers, innovators, scientists, and so, so much more. On National Nurses Week, join me in celebrating these everyday heroes!
Funding Affordable Housing
Affordable housing is crucial in the plans for ending homelessness, so I’m very pleased that the Board passed a motion this week to fund the development of even more affordable housing units across Los Angeles County.
The motion committed 28.3 million to seven different affordable housing developments across the County. In the Third District, we funded a development called Sun Commons in North Hollywood.
Sun Commons will be a 103-unit affordable multi-family housing community. Half of the units will be permanent supportive housing reserved for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or chronic homelessness. The other half will be reserved for low-income families earning between 40-60% of Area Median Income.
Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing are two of the most serious crises facing Los Angeles County. By connecting people experiencing homelessness to housing and services, they can have a safe, stable platform from which they can address other issues that may have contributed to their homelessness, such as employment, health, and substance abuse. By increasing affordable housing, we are working to prevent more of our neighbors from falling into homelessness in the first place.
Closing the Carried Interest Loophole
Since the 1980’s, our middle class has been shrinking. Wages have stagnated, and income inequality has soared. The average income of the top 20 percent of households is more than ten times the average income of the bottom 20 percent. While income inequality is expected to grow over time, there are common sense tax reforms that can help address inequality.
One of these reforms is the closure of the carried interest loophole. When General Hedge Funds or Private Equity Partners manage funds for a client, the parties enter into an agreement and set an expected rate of return for the fund, also known as the hurdle rate, and use this as a benchmark. If the fund returns exceed the hurdle rate, the Partner receives about 20% of the profits as a reward, which is known as carried interest. Carried interest is not taxed like regular income — it is taxed at 20 percent instead of 37 percent. This 17 percent gap is an unfair loophole. For most people who get a bonus or commission for doing their job well, that income is taxed at the full rate. Why should hedge fund managers be any different?
There is currently a State Assembly bill, AB 2731, that would effectively close the carried interest loophole. A motion passed this week, authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, called upon the Board to send a letter in support of AB 2731 to the Governor as well as the Assembly Appropriations Committee. According to estimates, AB 2731 would generate between 500 million and 1 billion in State revenue. The revenue from this tax would be used for early childhood education, career technical education, social-emotional learning, positive behavior interventions and supports, and trauma-informed strategies.
Hedge fund and private equity billionaires should not get a lower tax rate than kindergarten teachers and truck drivers. I support closing the carried interest loophole and investing in education.
Protecting the ACA in California
Los Angeles County saw significant increases in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). 3.7 million adults enrolled in the Medi-Cal expansion. 1.2 million Californians enrolled in subsidized insurance through Covered California, with average annual premium subsidies of $3,700. Statewide, the uninsured rate fell from 17.2% in 2013 to 8.6% in 2015.
The recent tax reform bill terminated the federal mandate, and other executive actions have made it easier to purchase insurance that offers incomplete benefits, leaving the low-income folks who use these plans very vulnerable. This administration’s attempts to weaken the ACA not only threaten to leave millions without health insurance but also to eliminate 209,000 jobs and cost the state economy $20.3 billion in GDP. Further negative impacts could occur if Congress decides to restructure federal payments for the entire state Medi-Cal program.
The motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas directs the Chief Executive Officer to work with the County’s state legislative team to advocate for several actions on the state level. The first is developing a plan for a “public insurance option” for all residents of the state of California. The second is the establishment of an individual mandate to purchase health insurance in the State of California, as well as a mandate that all state employers with 50 or more employees offer health coverage for those employees, similar to the mandates the federal government is trying to eliminate. The third is exploring an “all-payer” payment system. The final item we have asked the CEO and legislative team to look into is the development of a California state “Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund” that will support community disease prevention and wellness efforts, which will result in reductions in downstream healthcare spending.
Making sure our constituents have health insurance is not only morally right, but it is also fiscally smart. People who don’t have insurance still get sick and need to access healthcare, and caring for those uninsured people — and keeping them out of emergency rooms — falls largely to the county government and a network of community clinics. To make sure the system isn’t overburdened and costly to taxpayers, we must protect the ACA in California.
Expanding Transitional Age Youth Services
This week at the Board meeting we expanded hours and funding for drop-in health centers that serve Transitional Age Youth ages 18-24, many of whom are former foster youth who have aged out of the system. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, about 11% of the more than 11,870 homeless living in the 3rd District are Transitional Age Youth.
Homelessness service providers are often the gateway to healthcare for the homeless population. The County’s Department of Mental Health has contracts with several service providers, including Penny Lane Centers, The Village Family Services, Pacific Clinics, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and Good Seed Church of God in Christ, Inc.
This week, the Board voted to extend and expand the contracts of these service providers, so that they can provide more office hours and employ some clinicians and specialists to provide quality care. The contract will expand weekday operating hours, so these centers can be open for 30 hours a week, which makes accessing mental health care more flexible and convenient for the patients. The contract also now offers additional funding so that the Drop-In Centers can hire more clinicians, as well as a Peer Support Specialist and an Employment Specialist.
Our homelessness service providers work tirelessly to provide quality physical and mental health care to our homeless constituents, so I am very glad that the County and Board of Supervisors are doing the right thing by supporting and empowering them to expand their services.