Assembly Health Committee Approves Legislation To Protect Washington Hospital
The Assembly Health Committee on Friday approved a bill (SB 2027) that would prevent the launch of new general acute care hospitals within Washington Township Health Care District in most cases, the Oakland Tribune reports (Knoll, Oakland Tribune, 8/16). The committee voted 12-2 to pass the bill and refer the legislation to the Assembly Appropriations Committee (Assembly Web site, 8/16). Sen. Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont) proposed the legislation to protect Washington Hospital, which uses revenue from "lucrative operations," such as cardiovascular surgeries, to cover the cost of "money-losing but important services," such as ER, maternity and pulmonary care, hospital CEO Nancy Farber said. Farber added that competition from proposed "boutique" hospitals that would perform surgeries and other expensive procedures but would not operate ERs could "hurt Washington's ability to subsidize" their services. Figueroa said, "We need to make it possible to have a fair mechanism for other hospitals to compete and provide service, but in a way that is not detrimental to a hospital that provides so much service to our community." Some opponents of the bill criticized the "narrow focus" of the legislation (Knoll, Oakland Tribune, 8/16).
The legislation would prohibit the issue of a state license for a new general acute care hospital within a local health care district that "meets the criteria describing Washington Township Health Care District unless the applicant's hospital agrees" to operate an emergency room and not to limit inpatient services to surgeries or invasive diagnostic and treatment procedures. The bill would take effect until 2006 (Bill analysis, 8/15). Washington Township Health Care District includes Fremont, Newark, Union City, Sunol and South Hayward (Knoll, Oakland Tribune, 8/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.