LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles County supervisors agreed not to pursue the planned closure of one public hospital and to limit cutbacks at another, ending a two-year legal battle with local patient-advocacy groups. Under the settlement, the county will continue to operate Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey for at least three years while it tries to privatize the hospital for severely injured patients. In turn, the county will be allowed to reduce Rancho Los Amigos' beds to 162 from the 207 the hospital operated two years ago and to cut 25 of the 725 beds at County-USC Medical Center, Los Angeles. A federal judge must approve the deal. A coalition of patient-rights groups sued the county in 2003 after supervisors voted to close Rancho Los Amigos and eliminate 100 beds at County-USC in an effort to save about $75 million a year. A judge barred the plan.
LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Two former top officers of Tower Health, a defunct California HMO, were arraigned on eight felony counts charging that they siphoned more than $2 million in Medicaid reimbursements intended for physicians. The company's former president and chief executive officer, Robert Hugh Cohen, 45, and former chief financial officer, John Carlo Morreale, 44, pleaded not guilty to felony charges of grand theft, perjury, Medicaid fraud and filing false corporate financial reports. Lawyers for the men could not be reached for comment. A jury trial was tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 6. Tower Health, Long Beach, filed for bankruptcy in 2001.