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.


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.