CALIFORNIA: MATERNITY-STAY BILL DERAILED
After being "fierce[ly]" opposed by the health insuranceThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
industry, a mandatory maternity-stay bill failed in a "key"
California legislative committee Wednesday, LOS ANGLES TIMES
reports. The bill would have required "HMOs, disability insurers
and some nonprofit hospitals to provide" at least a 48-hour
hospital stay following uncomplicated deliveries and a 96-hour
stay following a C-section. The bill had already passed the
state Senate, but the state Assembly Appropriations Committee
"voted not to forward it to the full Assembly." State Rep. Liz
Figueroa (D), who sponsored the bill, said, "As for as I'm
concerned, it's dead."
REAX: Figueroa said the bill's demise was a sign of HMOs'
influence in the California Legislature. "Some of the strongest
lobbyists in this state are HMOs," she said. The bill had the
support of the California Medical Association, the American
College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the Traditional
THE HMO SIDE: The California Association of HMOs "argued"
that "earlier maternity discharges pose no greater risk to
mothers and babies than longer hospital stays. ... It is
inappropriate for government to mandate medical decisions that
are better left to doctors." Maureen O'Hara, legislative affairs
director for the HMO trade group, questioned whether data exists
showing that "California women that have babies are dying in
greater numbers or that major problems are occurring that weren't
occurring before" because of shorter maternity stays? She also
said that the medical groups contracted by the HMOs determine the
length of maternity stays, not the insurers. A legislative
analysis reported that the bill "could have cost the state Medi-
Cal program as much as $50 million in 1997 by increasing the
average hospital stay for Medi-Cal recipients from 1.6 days to 2
days." The California Chamber of Commerce, the California
Manufacturers Association and Gov. Pete Wilson's (R) Department
of Finance also opposed the bill (Olmos, 8/8).