Bill Aims To Modify Deadlines for Hospital Compliance With State Seismic Safety Requirements
Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) on Wednesday introduced a bill (SB 167) that would eliminate earlier deadlines for hospitals to complete some seismic retrofitting work if hospitals commit to making all improvements by 2020, the San Jose Mercury News reports (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 2/10).
Under the current seismic retrofit requirements, hospitals must guarantee by 2008 -- or by 2013 if they expect to continue to use their buildings for an additional 30 years -- that their buildings will not collapse in a major earthquake. By 2030, hospitals must guarantee that their buildings will not collapse in a major earthquake and will continue to function immediately afterward (California Healthline, 11/24/2004).
The legislation calls for the elimination of the 2008 and 2013 deadlines but would move the final deadline for compliance with the rules from 2030 to 2020. However, the bill does not impose penalties on hospitals that would later renege on the commitment.
Speier said lawmakers could change that as it moves through the Legislature.
The bill is supported by the California Hospital Association and the Association of Healthcare Districts.
Some hospitals that already have begun retrofitting or plan on constructing new facilities said if the bill is approved it will not changes their plans, the Mercury News reports.
The California Nurses Association likely will oppose the legislation, according to CNA spokesperson Chuck Idelson.
Some hospitals said it would be more economical to have just one deadline for compliance rather than several deadlines.
Speier said she created the legislation because some hospitals cannot afford the costly rebuilding required by the standards. "Many of our hospitals are already on life support," she said.
Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights said, "This is one big huge favor for the hospital industry. If some hospitals want to claim poverty, maybe there should be an option for an extension. But some hospitals are making a killing. They should put some of that money back into hospitals to make them safe" (San Jose Mercury News, 2/10).
"KBPS News" on Wednesday reported on the measure. The segment includes comments from Steve Escaboza, head of the Healthcare Association of San Diego County (Goldberg, "KBPS News," KPBS, 2/9). The complete version is available online in RealPlayer.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.