The Wayne County (Mich.) Commission approved the creation of a joint city-county public health authority, part of an effort to rescue the Detroit Medical Center hospital system from financial collapse.
The Detroit Wayne County Health Authority will coordinate healthcare services for hundreds of thousands of uninsured residents. Supporters have said the health authority would be able to obtain as much as $50 million in new federal funding.
The Detroit City Council approved the authority June 9; the county commissioners took final action Tuesday.
In December, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm agreed to set up the authority in response to a financial crisis at the 10-hospital Detroit Medical Center. The not-for-profit hospital system has lost about $500 million during the past six years, largely because of the cost of treating people on Medicaid or without health insurance.
The authority would assign patients to certain doctors and hospitals based on where the patients live. It is designed to spread the burden of the care and reduce unnecessary emergency room visits. Denver and Chicago employ similar authorities.
Ficano called the decision a victory for the working poor and others without health insurance.
"We've still got a lot of work to do, but we're finally on our way to providing much better coordination of health care funds and medical services," he said in a news release.