Children’s Hospitals Plan Expansions, Improvements After Passage of Proposition 61
California Children's hospitals have begun to develop plans to add new beds, operating rooms and equipment after the passage of Proposition 61, a bond measure that appeared on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/8). State residents last week voted to pass Proposition 61, which will provide $750 million to pay for construction, expansion and equipment for children's hospitals and will cost about $1.5 billion over 30 years (California Healthline, 11/4).
Thirteen hospitals in the state qualify to apply for part of the funds, and the state will begin to accept applications in January after a statewide finance committee is established. The funds likely will remain available for 10 years, according to experts. The state will divide the $750 million into two funds -- $150 million for five University of California hospitals and $600 million for the eight children's hospitals in California that provide care for the sickest children.
According to Meg Norton, senior vice president and chief operations officer at San Diego Children's Hospital, the hospital will use Proposition 61 funds to help finance three major projects. The projects include the addition of six surgical suites and the expansion of some suites to accommodate large neurosurgical and operating equipment. In addition, the hospital plans to increase the number of acute care beds and replace an outdated 59-bed convalescent facility.
UCSD Medical Center Deputy Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences David Bailey said that although the hospital has not made specific plans for the use of Proposition 61 funds, the facility should replace and expand the neonatal intensive care unit. "We're very often filled to capacity, and even overflowing," Bailey said (San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/8).
The Sacramento Bee on Monday examined efforts by the National Federation of Small Business and other groups that lobbied against Proposition 72 to lobby Congress to help provide health insurance to workers through association health plans and other measures, the Sacramento Bee reports (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 11/8). California residents rejected Proposition 72 on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot; passage of the measure would have upheld a law (SB 2) that would have required some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay in to a fund to provide such coverage (California Healthline, 11/4).
"Forcing businesses to buy insurance was the wrong way for California to go," Michael Shaw, assistant state director for NFSB, said, adding, "But we would be very supportive of government efforts to make employee health benefits more affordable."
However, supporters of Proposition 72 maintain that AHPs would not have to follow state insurance and consumer protection laws. "The explicit aim of association health plans is to avoid compliance with the HMO patients' bill of rights in California," according to Anthony Wright, executive director for Health Access California (Sacramento Bee, 11/8).