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The Local : UC Irvine Officials Threaten to Treat Poor Patients in Emergencies Only

<i> From Times staff and wire service reports</i>

UC Irvine officials threatened today to stop treating Orange County’s poorest patients--except in emergencies--in order to save the university hospital from financial disaster.

Chancellor Jack W. Peltason told the UC Board of Regents that the UCI Medical Center is the victim of a crisis in health care in Orange County.

“Our hospital is in jeopardy because of what can only be described as a collapse of the health care system established in Orange County to provide for the needs of the indigent and the working poor,” Peltason said.

The hospital, with only 6% of the county’s beds, is treating more than half of the indigent patients and being paid only half of what it costs to treat those patients, Peltason said.

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The hospital expects to lose more than $13 million in the fiscal year that ends June 30.

Campus officials said they will no longer participate in the state Medi-Cal program if they cannot negotiate a new contract that will pay them an amount closer to what it costs them to care for the poor patients.


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