California Lawmakers Consider Restrictions on Hospital Sales
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday is scheduled to consider a bill (SB 894) that would authorize the state attorney general to block the sale of a not-for-profit hospital to a for-profit owner if the hospital's owner did not seek multiple bids or ignored rival offers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Under current state law, the attorney general cannot force a hospital owner to seek multiple bids.
The legislation by Sen. Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego) stems from the sale in February of Paradise Valley Hospital in National City to Prime HealthCare Services. Ducheny opposed the sale.
Jan Emerson, spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, says the organization opposes the measure because forcing a hospital to seek multiple offers could deplete funds that are sustaining the hospital and cause the facility to close.
Gareth Lacy, a spokesperson for Attorney General Jerry Brown (D), said the Attorney General's Office has not taken a position on the bill.
Regardless of the outcome of SB 894, hospitals will have one less bill to consider their position on this year: Assembly member Mary Salas (D-Chula Vista) removed from consideration her bill to increase regulation of hospital contracts with HMOs.
AB 1203 would have required a hospital that cancels a contract with an HMO to report the number of HMO members that the hospital treats. The bill would have required the report to be made within three days of the cancellation or the hospital would have been barred from charging the HMO higher rates.
Salas said she will meet with stakeholders and rework the proposal (Darcé, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/8).
Dan Walters in his Sacramento Bee column on Monday highlighted several current "turf battles" being waged in the Legislature by medical providers over "who can perform which specific medical procedure of which part of the human body."
The bills include:
- SB 534, by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland), which would create a separate state licensing board for dental hygienists, who now work under supervision of dentists;
- AB 1367 by Assembly member Mark DeSaulnier (D-Martinez), which would certify drug and alcohol counseling as a state-licensed profession;
- AB 1436, by Assembly member Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), which would provide more authority to physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners, including the ability to prescribe drugs; and
- AB 1444, by Assembly member Bill Emmerson (R-Rancho Cucamonga), which would allow physical therapists to practice without direct referral from physicians.