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County and CHC make up; clinics stay open 

Community Health Centers of the Central Coast, a network of 25 medical clinics for poor people in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, will not close its local clinics, as an agreement was reached between CHC administrators and county health officials.

In June, tensions peaked between CHC and county officials after the County Health Agency solidified plans to cut public funding to the clinic network to its lowest historical levels: from $3 million to $2.2 million. In response, CHC officials warned they would close clinics in Morro Bay and Cambria.

In July, New Times reported that despite county cuts, CHC had been enjoying healthy profits and administrators continued to enjoy salary increases as high as $30,000 in a year.

After several months of negotiations, however, the county and CHC settled on an agreement in which the county will provide CHC $2.54 million in a grant agreement this fiscal year, followed by $2.5 million in 2012-13. Additionally, the county agreed to provide $440,000 from General Fund contingencies.

To reach the agreement, which the Health Agency called a “significant compromise on the county’s part, CHC reduced its staff and some employee benefits, increased employee shares of health insurance, and reduced administrator and management compensation by imposing one unpaid furlough day per month. County supervisors unanimously approved the agreement on Oct. 18 without discussion.

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