A federal appeals court told Los Angeles County it must wait at least until November to close 100 beds at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, Los Angeles, and shut down a 207-bed rehabilitation hospital in Downey, Calif. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a preliminary injunction barring the actions until a lawsuit set for a November trial is resolved. Eight poor and uninsured residents sued the county in February, arguing that the health of patients such as themselves would be seriously jeopardized if the county proceeds with its plans. The county board of supervisors decided in January 2003 that the cuts were necessary to head off an expected $265 million budget deficit. U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson wrote in his opinion that the county did not face a budget shortfall until 2005-2006 and that "likely harm to plaintiffs far outweighs any hardship the preliminary injunction causes the county." -- by Laura B. Benko
Court upholds order blocking L.A. County closures
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