Assembly Panel OKs Bill That Could Extend Some Seismic Safety Deadlines
On Tuesday, California's Assembly Committee on Health voted 14-1 to approve a bill (SB 90) that would allow hospitals to undergo a collapse risk assessment to determine whether they can qualify for up to seven years of extensions in seismic safety deadlines, California Watch reports.
Sen. President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) authored the bill with Assembly Health Committee Chair Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Senate Health Committee Chair Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina). The California Hospital Association sponsored the legislation.
State law requires the riskiest hospital buildings to meet earthquake safety standards by 2013 or 2015. If a hospital fails to meet its deadline, the state can revoke its operating license.
Paul Coleman -- facilities division director of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development -- said 49 hospitals are at risk of closure on Jan. 1, 2013 under current law. He added that such closures could result in a loss of 15.5% of the hospital beds in Southern California.
SB 90 would require all buildings seeking an extension of the seismic safety deadlines to submit data for a collapse risk assessment by Sept. 30, 2012.
The state then would determine the facility's collapse risk score by using a software program to analyze factors such as:
- Building codes;
- Construction materials; and
- Structural make-up.
Officials would use the facility's collapse risk score -- as well as data about community needs and hospital finances -- to decide whether to grant an extension of seismic safety deadlines.
Hospitals also would have to meet certain standards in 2012, 2015 and 2018 to qualify for the deadline extensions.
In addition to the seismic safety provisions, SB 90 includes a measure that would extend a budget maneuver to draw down additional federal funds for hospitals (Jewett, California Watch, 4/6).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.