Keeping Our Promise to South Los Angeles
June 30, 2020—State budget cuts that threatened $30 million a year in supplemental funding to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) have been successfully fought off.
Budget negotiations have concluded between the California legislature and Governor Gavin Newsom, with the final budget signed on June 30. Cuts to MLKCH were removed, solidifying an important win for the patients and community of South Los Angeles.
In May, state lawmakers proposed the funding cuts as part of a broader effort to address the anticipated $54 billion state budget deficit due to the economic impact of COVID-19. The loss of $30 million annually would have been devastating for MLKCH, which serves a population of over 1 million highly-vulnerable people in South LA.
MLKCH has been an innovative model for community health care since its opening in 2015—bringing in first-rate doctors, expanding innovative treatment programs, and opening clinics with primary and specialist care. When the coronavirus pandemic began, patients in the community had a state-of-the-art hospital on their side and physicians and nurses they could trust.
Political leaders at the local and state levels—including LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Assemblyman Mike Gipson, State Senator Steven Bradford, and State Senator Holly Mitchell—immediately understood the devastating impact the proposed budget cuts would have on the community. More than 80% of MLKCH patients are on Medi-Cal or uninsured. The unique funding arrangement with the State of California is crucial to the hospital’s ability to maintain quality care and grow programs to improve health.
“This public-private partnership has been the cornerstone of MLKCH's success and a reason it stands as a national model to transform and save lives. I'm pleased that Governor Newsom and his team has recommitted to investing in MLKCH and our essential work here in South Los Angeles,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
A strong and vocal advocacy campaign that began in the community and spread throughout the nation helped to bring MLKCH’s plight to the forefront of conversations on healthcare and social justice. Ultimately, those efforts prevailed.
“I am grateful to everyone who helped us achieve this outcome, including all who wrote or contacted our state leaders. Your voices mattered,” said MLKCH CEO Dr. Elaine Batchlor.
MLKCH will continue to fulfill its promise to South LA—a promise of quality healthcare, hope, and healing.